How important is the product name in an advertising and marketing campaign? It’s a difficult question, but based upon one popular product it seems to have a huge influence on the level of sales.
If you go to the Amazon “Toys and Games” category and look at the bestseller list, you will find that eight of the top ten positions are occupied by Zhu Zhu Pets. These are basically motorized, robotic hamsters which use artificial intelligence combined with sensors to interact with each other, with the children who are playing with them and with their environment.
In addition to the hamsters themselves, there are a number of different environments and toys which children can set up in a variety of arrangements for their electronic pets. It’s easy to see why kids in the target age group (4 to 10 years old) are going nuts for these toys. They are furry, small and cute. They produce a variety of cute little noises. They interact with external stimuli and their hamster environments – tube, tracks and toys, can be pulled apart, “redesigned” and then reassembled in a variety of combinations.
From the perspective of the doting parents there are plenty of plus points as well. They don’t need to be fed and watered, they don’t poop – so there’s no cage cleaning – and they don’t pop their clogs, leaving the parents to explain that Fluffy has gone to hamster heaven.
So it’s no surprise that, despite being launched only at the back end of August, the Zhu Zhu pets are a such big hit with both parents and children. They might even be this year’s best selling Xmas toy if sales keep going the way they are.
On the other hand, if you take a look at the UK version of Amazon and check out the bestseller list in the Toys and Games category, you won’t find the Zhu Zhu pets anywhere in the top hundred. This is due to the fact that, in the UK, they are still being sold under the name of Go Go Pets? Regardless, despite the fact that they are considerably cheaper to buy in the UK, the Zhu Zhu/Go Go pets don’t make a blip on the radar.
Cepia, the company who market the Zhu Zhu hamsters in the USA, have done a great job of rebranding and promoting these toys. Following a local test launch in Phoenix, these toys have been selling like hot cakes since their nationwide launch in August. Prices are beginning to rise as demand seems to be considerably higher than supply. As a matter of fact, assuming that stocks hold out, it is very difficult to imagine what toy might displace these for the much sought after Christmas number one slot.