‘Tis the season for toy shopping. Fijit Friends, Leap Pads, Monster High Dolls, and of course, Lego, Barbie, and American Girl Dolls are top of the list this year.

We’ve already seen toy queries increase 38% in 2011 versus 2010. And we all know that November and December are key times for toy shoppers (see query trends here). As the online channel becomes increasingly influential, many toy retailers and manufacturers are asking how to best reach these shoppers.

We’re excited to announce that Google and Compete recently completed a custom study on the Toy industry, investigating how digital and mobile influences toy purchase decisions. Here are 4 key insights and recommendations on how marketers can reach toy shoppers this season!

Digital is core to the toy buying process: Digital resources are used more throughout the toy purchase cycle than traditional sources. 43% of shoppers use video sharing sites, 39% visit manufacturer websites, and 39% rely on paid search for information on the latest and greatest toys. And, shoppers turn to digital after seeing a tv commercial or store circular; most shoppers research online within one week of offline ad exposure.

Recommendation: Make digital a core element of your marketing mix, and align your online campaigns with your offline media plan.

Category terms are crucial for reaching toy shoppers in Q4: Many toy shoppers are undecided. In fact, almost 30% of shoppers search only on non-branded, category terms. These terms play a huge role in assisting conversions. When considering online conversions. 30% were assisted by category terms.

Recommendation: Guarantee coverage on these terms to reach those undecided shoppers this holiday season. Ensure that category terms are included in your keyword mix

Toy shoppers research and cross shop: Toy shoppers begin researching two weeks prior to purchase and those that convert search more (on average, 8.2 queries). Toy consumers also tend to shop around: 40% visit more than four sites.

Recommendation: Re-market to customers who don’t immediately convert on your site.

Retailers dominate in the research and purchase process: Consumers turn to retailers the most when shopping! 50% of consumers start with a retailer term when shopping for toys, and of those, 84% end with a retailer term.

Recommendation: Toy Manufacturers should partner with retailer to ensure they are the brand that wins, especially during the pivotal holiday season.

Be on the lookout for our complete toy study and presentation to be delivered shortly. In the meantime, Happy Toy Shopping!

Posted by Amy Lovin, The Google Retail Team