Business Unusual

Ryan is seven and reviews toys. For that he earned over R100 million last year

YouTube has launched many careers and created new genres of entertainment. One of the popular styles is unboxing videos and reviews. When you have a child doing the review, it makes for a powerful marketing message.

When a media company manages what the child will review in collaboration with big retailers, the combined impact can generate a lot of sales.

Welcome to an evolved kind of advertising that supercharges sales aimed at children that parents assume are simply watching kid-friendly videos.

What started as 5-year-old Ryan asking his mom why he could not make videos like another YouTube reviewer Evan. His mom agreed and in time quit her job to manage the videos. He was a hit, and earlier this year he was signed by a media company that manages, promotes and markets the creators to retailers and helps spread and advertise their videos. The billions of views and endorsement payments have resulted in an income of over R100 million for the last year.

Pocket.watch itself is only two years old but has five creators including Even that inspired Ryan in the first place. They recently advertised for a media sales director and a social media manager. The titles may sound traditional but the roles are not. One part of the social media role is to find the next YouTube child star. The process to find that child or encourage parents to film and post their children's activities daily as a new career sounds like there are some real pitfalls that may not have been fully considered yet.

In July Ryan launched his own toy range via Walmart, and the toys are also available on Amazon. This Christmas will see how well the new type of review/unboxing/endorsement type marketing works.

What is unboxing?

Product reviews are not new, but with anyone able to post videos, the volume of product reviews has skyrocketed. Typically product reviews would focus on the features and benefits of a product by someone that would have used the product before doing the review. But unboxing videos are less about a considered analysis and more about the excitement of opening the box. It offers a vicarious way to open hundreds of products you may never be able to afford.

To children, it might look like opening presents, and when it is an excited child doing the unboxing, even adults would be moved by the joy of exploring a new toy.

The channel’s most popular video has over 1.5 billion views and shows Ryan find some giant eggs with toys inside and then playing with them. It was posted two years ago.

The endless supply of videos promoting the latest toys is creating a generation of children that will not only want them which is not new, but they will want it as soon as possible. Online retail is working hard to get products delivered as fast as possible with the goal of same-day delivery a reality for many shoppers in big cities.

The video that started it and that has over 1.5 billion views.

The problem with online retail

There is nothing inherently wrong with buying online. It may actually be a much easier way to find what you want at the price you want in the most convenient way. The issue arises out of how to get the product to you via the delivery.

Online is creating a new sector for warehouse and delivery work that is high pressure, with long hours, precarious job security and basic pay.

The New York Times' recent focus on the impact it is having in the US should be a warning for what we can expect elsewhere as online continues to grow.

Besides the drop in sales in-store and the resulting loss of retail jobs, it will see brick and mortar stores put more focus on building their online presence and a big part of making that work is getting the product to the consumer as fast as possible.

It will undoubtedly be disruptive and when combined with the amplified hype selling of products especially to children, it may create a new type of consumer the world can’t sustain.

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