The biggest retailer in the world generates no shortage of surprising factoids about what customers are buying. Did you know that Wal-Mart Stores sells more bananas than anything else? The most popular item during last year’s Black Friday sales blitz? Towels.
But even equipped with virtually unlimited sales data, Walmart still turns to a 1,000-kid focus group in an attempt to forecast the best-selling toys for the holiday season. Children in Dallas between the ages of 18 months and 10 years old played with more than 80 toys for the survey, and parents of the toy testers received a gift card.
Walmart compiles the children’s toy ratings into a top-20 list and instructs its buyers to stock up. The items will be given a special place on shelves with a prominent “Chosen by Kids” label and particular online emphasis. Shoppers “don’t have to believe Walmart,” says Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart U.S. “They can believe the kids.”