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Mattel and Walmart trial new virtual toy store where users ‘choose their own adventure’

Mattel has partnered with KidHQ to ‘lease floors’ in a new virtual store that allows users to browse toys and merchandise in videos with various choose their own adventure formats.

Both Mattel and Walmart are trialling the interactive video concept to market and sell toys ranging from Barbie to the big ticket castle play-set inspired by the upcoming Frozen 2 film.

One example of the kind of adventure users can choose would be in Walmart’s Toy Lab, where users can search, test and watch up to 40 different toys being played with by child actors. Meanwhile, on Mattel’s Barbie DreamFloor, users can help Barbie create her own video blog, all while browsing products such as a Barbie house or space shuttle.

All videos on the platform point out that they are in fact advertisements, while a ‘grownups only’ floor allows parents to view their children’s wish lists and buy toys through Walmart.com.

“Increasingly, we are looking to give kids new ways to create an imaginative world around their beloved Mattel brands and characters,” said Janet Hsu, chief franchise officer, Mattel. “The ‘Barbie DreamFloor at KidHQ’ does just that, putting kids in the driver’s seat so that they can create their own Barbie interactive experiences.”

KidHQ is the brainchild of Eko, a startup that received $250 million in funding from Walmart last October. Walmart and Eko trialled an initial version of a Toy Lab that generated 8 million interactions. Reported by the Wall Street Journal, the platform saw visitors spend an average of 13 minutes and had 13 interactions per visit.

The company has said that 12 per cent of users also added a toy to their wish lists.

“What we are seeing here is a real hole left by Toys R Us leaving the ecosystem,” said Ivy Sheibar, chief business officer at Eko.

“We’re giving kids and parents a place to experience toys, while giving parents the ability to understand what their kids are interested in – but doing it in a way that can be fun for both.”

Eko is now in conversation to add further toy manufacturers, children’s entertainment programmers and food marketers to KidHQ.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent some six years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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