NATIONAL (CBS NEWSPATH) – Industries that use conferences, conventions, and other big in-person events to reveal new products have been forced to find new ways to get those new products in front of people during the pandemic. That includes toys.
Before the coronavirus, The Toy Insider held events that let companies show off their latest toys and allowed kids to put them to the test. This summer everything has gone virtual.
The annual Sweet Suite event showcases the hottest toys and previews trends for the holiday season. This summer The Toy Insider planned an “at home” event where toy companies set up virtual booths, and those hands-on experiences were replaced by a digital one. Users entered a Zoom room to see a new toy reveal or chat with a toy company.
“This was hard, really hard, probably one of the hardest things that I personally have ever done in my life,” says Laurie Schacht, chief toy officer at The Toy Insider.
The digital event delivered an added bonus for The Toy Insider. “We had a record number of attendees this year. We’re a New York event, but because now we’re virtual, we have coast-to-coast and Canadian participation,” Schacht says. According to Schacht, because of that, even when things return to normal, future events will be a combination of in-person and online.
It’s not just toys that have had to make a change. Ford was forced to do a virtual reveal of its new pickup now that car shows are canceled. Apple held its latest developers conference in an empty auditorium.