It has happened again. Another toy has captured the imagination of children and opportunists of all ages. TMX Elmo, which debuted in September, is now practically impossible to find"”at least anywhere near its suggested retail price. For parents waiting to start their holiday shopping this week you’d be wise to scratch this toy from any wish lists.
Unlike ten years ago when the original Tickle-Me-Elmo craze struck, eBay is now a household name, allowing everyone to witness the effects of supply and demand firsthand. With TMX Elmo in short supply and high demand, eBay now enables budding entrepreneurs to capitalize on parents’ insatiable desire to give their children this year’s "top toy". Demand for the doll jumped 13 fold in September and keeps rising well in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you were shopping online for this illusive doll in October, you were one of 700,000 people. After trying at retailers, 20% of these shoppers turned to eBay in search of Elmo TMX (or arguably to sell any they were fortunate enough to find).
*Shopper counts measured across top retail sites (Amazon, Toyrus, Walmart, Target, KB Toys, e Toys)
TMX Elmo has been the most popular item on Walmart.com for the past 2 months, even though it is sold out there as well as at all of the other leading online retailers (and most if not all of their bricks and mortar counterparts). Resellers on Amazon are now offering the dolls starting at $120, with some asking upwards of $500. On a quick check last week, the dolls were selling on eBay for roughly double their $40 retail price"”and that’s before the $20 shipping fee some merchants were charging.
Take a deep breath America. In eight weeks you’ll be able to find TMX Elmo for $40 at every toy store in America. Your children will still love you come January even if they don’t get one this December. Do them and yourselves a favor this year: put the money you are considering overpaying for this STUFFED ANIMAL into your child’s bank account or college savings account and buy them a book instead. They will thank you for it someday.
Full Disclosure: I never did buy my 2 Â½ year old a TMX Elmo. Trains are the subject of his fascination now. He’s getting a wooden train set for Christmas"”a toy which he can entertain himself with, rather than a furry electronic doll designed to entertain him.
As VP of Millward Brown Digital’s financial services, retail and consumer products practices, Matt is responsible for vertical growth and strategy and the delivery of digital insights and best practice marketing consulting to leading Fortune 500 advertisers. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.