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Summer playtime trends: How first-party data helps brands thrive in a customer-centric world 

Take the guesswork out of shopper trend analysis and ensure your brand continues to thrive with actionable, customer-centric insights

With the media saturated with pink dream houses and nearly impossible spy missions this summer, Walmart shoppers took advantage of the warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors and experience sun-powered joy in the toy aisle. Unsurprisingly, summer toy sales are up, with the most popular summer toys inspiring creativity, imagination, and movement for the entire family. This is a shift from the tech-powered play boom we've seen over the last decade. 

Understanding these shifting shopper behaviors is crucial, especially during the summer months when parents are looking for new ways to engage and entertain their children. With Walmart Luminate Charter, brands have the unique opportunity to investigate the latest needs (and wants) of shoppers of all ages and create personalized and relevant experiences across the category. In this article, we will explore the top four summer toy trends, what they mean for your brand, and tips to leverage the advanced data science capabilities of Walmart Luminate to capitalize on emerging trends and drive growth in your category.

Trend one: Land of make believe

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in sales of action figures and dolls fueled by a rising trend in popular characters from movies, TV shows, and video games. Both children and adults are captivated by these collectible toys. One of the main drivers is the nostalgia factor, as adults who grew up with action figures and dolls now seek to share their childhood memories as they become parents. Moreover, the rise of influencer culture and an increased focus on representation have also influenced demand for diverse and inclusive action figures and dolls. This has contributed to expanded product range in-store and online and created opportunities for toy brands to cater their assortments to meet the evolving interests of shoppers.

Tip: Explore customer sentiment with Qualitative Video Research in Walmart Luminate Customer Perception. Clarify the “why” behind the buy, through self-recorded video clips from our Walmart Customer Spark Community and gain candid answers from real customers to strengthen product strategies, test new concepts, gain feedback on products, and launch new innovations and experiences.  

Trend two: Bursting the bubble 

Bubbles have become increasingly popular during the summer season as families were eager to find ways to spend time outside. Between April 2023 and July 2023, bubbles rose in both sales and frequency of purchase in the United States, attributed to their inexpensive price point and ability to provide hours of entertainment. In fact, the most popular day for buying bubbles was Saturday and the most popular time was 1:00 PM—perfect for weekend festivities1. By focusing on simple, age-inclusive fun, brands can capture the attention of shoppers at the right time.  

Tip: Identify customer behavior metrics driving performance for your brands with Walmart Luminate’s Shopper Behavior Performance in Detail Report. Track changes in customer behavior and shopping trends during peak and non-peak periods.

Trend three: Tech-integrated toys 

Tech-integrated toys that focus on learning and expanded realities have continued to gain immense popularity, especially during summer. Popular examples of these types of toys include karaoke machines, walkie-talkies, and virtual reality headsets. These toys can provide stimulation that promotes both learning and fun—a win for both parents and kids. By combining sales and customer metrics, brands can identify the top and bottom performing products by customer profile, and guide parents towards new toy choices for their children’s growing imaginations.

Tip: Determine the busiest day of the week and hour of the day for your category. Use Walmart Luminate’s Shopper Behavior Hourly/ Daily Trends Report to identify when your brand’s sales are highest. Leverage these insights to plan for in-store activations and inventory changes. 

Trend four: Active play and sports toys

The summer season is synonymous with outdoor activities and sports. Families are eager to engage in active play and encourage movement among children. With Walmart's omnichannel options, it is easier than ever to buy kids bikes. The majority (86%) of shoppers continue to buy kids bikes in-store at their local Walmart followed by 9% who purchase them online2. Seize on this trend by comparing the performance of your products in each channel and identify what else your shoppers are buying to keep children active and entertained throughout the warmer months.

Tip: Explore customer sentiment with Qualitative Video Research in Walmart Luminate Customer Perception. Understand the ‘why’ behind the buy through self-recorded video clips from our Walmart Customer Spark Community. These candid answers from real customers can help your business strengthen product strategies, test new concepts, and launch new innovations and experiences.  

How to leverage summer playtime trends to drive your growth 

While warm weather may linger, planning for next season has already begun. That’s why it is so important to stay on top of trends and analyze shoppers' buying behavior to optimize category and brand plans. If you don't have the right data and insights, you risk missing opportunities to engage with shoppers and drive sales all year long. Discover the power of first-party data with a demo of Walmart Luminate Charter, Walmart Data Ventures' flagship data analytics product suite. Walmart Luminate combines the power of answering what, why, and where along the omnichannel path-to-purchase for you to see what's next for your brand.


1Walmart first-party data provided by Walmart Luminate, July 2023. Reflecting Jan 14, 2023, to March 31, 2023. 

2Walmart first-party data provided by Walmart Luminate, July 2023. Reflecting Apr 8, 2023, to Jul 7, 2023.