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Toy Value Index

TOPICS | Parenting | Education Posted Friday, August 2, 2013 (903 views)

Countdown to 100,000 Customer Product Reviews

It was the Summer of 2009 and it was clear the average American consumer was suffering. The economic woes that had begun in 2008 were only picking up steam and the future prognosis didn't look good.

It's a general belief in the toy industry that toys are (somewhat) recession proof. After all, most parents and grandparents are more than willing to forego something for themselves long before they'll skimp on a birthday or Christmas gift for the special kids in their lives. Despite this fact, we were seeing more and more evidence that our customers were taking a more deliberate approach to their toy shopping. Yes, some began looking harder for the lowest price. But others were headed in a different direction and began asking: Which toys are the best VALUE?

Inspired by these queries and armed with a wealth of product data derived from tens of thousands of product reviews, we realized that we were in a unique position to answer that very question. Appropriately named, we developed the Toy Value Index in an attempt to quantify the overall play value of a given toy or game.

Distilled down to a simple formula, the Toy Value Index (TVI) is a measure of (QUALITY + TIME PLAYED + AGE TRANSCENDENCE)/PRICE. This algorithm could only be made possible by the sheer quantity of product review data that we receive from our customers on a daily basis. While some toy retailers have gathered a few hundred or a few thousand customer reviews, it's the 100,000 product reviews that allow us to tap into "big data" to quantify complex concepts such as VALUE.

But how exactly do we measure abstract attributes like quality or age transcendence? As part of the product review process, we ask each customer to rate the product they purchased in three very key areas: 1) QUALITY, 2) HOW MUCH THE ITEM IS PLAYED WITH, 3) AGE TRANSCENDENCE. An explanation of each is found below: 


A relatively straight-forward question...is the item of good quality? Were there any manufacturer defects? Is it made of good materials? Does it appear to be well-constructed?


In an effort to gather a relative measure of how much this toy is played with, we ask our customers to complete the following sentence: "The recipient of this toy..."
"...won't put it down!" (highest)
"...plays with it frequently."
"...plays with it once in a while."
"...rarely plays with it."
"...hasn't touched it!" (lowest)


This is perhaps the most difficult aspect to explain, but certainly is a large factor when considering the overall value of a toy in a household. Our goal here is to find out 1) can the item be played with by many different ages; 2) is the item of good enough quality that it can be handed down from sibling to sibling or even generation to generation.

The answers to these questions form the foundation of the Fat Brain Toys Toy Value Index. But there is one key element that is still missing from the equation: PRICE. By factoring in the price of the item, you get a much clearer indication of the true play value of an item. With the Toy Value Index in hand, you now have some tools to differentiate between the overall value of a $100+ wooden marble run vs. a $15 yo-yo. One item may be cheaper, but does is it really translate to a better overall value? Refer to the Toy Value Index found on most Fat Brain Toys' product detail pages for the answer.

Our Toy Value Index is just one of many useful tools we've created from our customer product review data. Check back on Monday for a full explanation of another Fat Brain Toys exclusive: Toy IQ.

Contributed by
Mark Carson
Fat Brain Toys

Mark is the President & Co-Founder of Fat Brain Toys.


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The PLAY blog is a platform dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent and open conversation about parenting. However, the opinions expressed on this site are those of individual parents/writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fat Brain Toys. In addition, content provided on this site is for entertainment or informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or safety advice.

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