Just like anything, toys are advancing rapidly in a variety of manners. For instance, many toys allow for personalization while others are immersive. Additionally, many technological toys are enjoying a new era of intelligence in that they are in some manner imbued with smart technology. In terms of manufacturing, some are even moving away from mass manufacturing toward a process involving highly skilled artisans. If you are a manufacturer, understanding these trends will help you achieve a better profit, but more important is the fact that understanding consumer or manufacturing trends will help you make a much more fun product, something children of every age will welcome.
Top 10 Trends in the Toy Industry
1. Personalized Toys
The idea of personalized toys brings to mind images of children’s names inscribed on toys. However, the world of personalized toys has expanded far beyond a simple nameplate. In fact, across the globe, the toy industry is meeting the demand for personalized and custom-made products. For instance, some toys now come with sensors, such as Bluetooth trackers, which are designed to help parents find a lost toy before a meltdown occurs. Other toys that can be worn, such as toy glasses or bracelets, are now including GPS, which allows parents to always know the location of their child.
2. Plush Toys
From teddy bears to baby elephants, toys stuffed with a soft filling and covered in a soft fabric have been a mainstay in the toy industry. However, action movies and cartoons have helped plush toys move to the forefront of the toy industry. For instance, with several blockbuster movies set to be released in 2021, including Wonder Woman and Mulan, plush hero toys are expected to flood the toy market.
3. Water Toys
From squirt guns to stomping in a puddle, water play has always been fun for children. As such, it is no surprise that many toys are evolving around water. For instance, within the category of arts and crafts, the inclusion of water allows children to create fun art projects that can be wiped clean when done, allowing for unending creativity. Additionally, water-based toys are becoming increasingly popular across a variety of toy categories as water is safe, clean, and easy to access.
4. STEM Toys
As technology continues to change across a variety of industries, parents are becoming more interested in introducing their children to activities based on four technical areas.
Combined, these categories are known as STEM. To meet people’s growing interest, the toy industry is moving towards STEM-related toys. However, what is even more interesting is that many companies are designing toys to encourage young girls to pursue careers in science and engineering. For instance, Yellow Scope offers science kits for girls that include a variety of scientific apparatus, including test tubes, safety goggles, and fully stocked chemistry sets.
5. Regulating the Practice of Advertising to Children
2021 will see an increase in regulations when it comes to advertising to children. For instance, YouTube is moving towards removing advertising on children’s videos. Removing the ads also removes the cookies, which results in a lower return on investment that marketers receive from such ads. As new regulations are implemented, companies will be forced to develop new marketing and advertising strategies. These changes may ultimately result in reduced revenue companies once enjoyed from said ads. However, the absence of targeted ads does not necessarily mean toy companies will not be able to advertise their products. For instance, many companies are now utilizing content as a way to advertise.
6. Unboxing Toys
This trend is based on the intrinsic fun that the element of surprise provides as a toy is unboxed. However, this trend takes this fun to another level in that some companies are packaging their toys in one main box that reveals only the basics regarding what is within the box. Additionally, once a child opens the main box, every subsequent object within the box is individually wrapped in a nondescript box or bag, adding more surprise with each unboxing. Another take on unboxing includes toys that slowly reveal themselves by requiring the child to engage in an extra step, such as dipping a toy in water to ultimately reveal the actual toy. Other creative additions to this trend include packaging that transforms into play sets or storage.
7. Diversity in the Toy Market
The era where every girl doll was a slender Caucasian female and every boy doll was a fit Caucasian male doll has ended in that many figurines are now gender neutral and available in a wide array of skin tones. Moreover, diversity does not simply apply to visuals. In fact, more and more games take into consideration blind players in that traditional card games, such as Uno, are now printed in Braille. In fact, the Lego company now offers audio instructions for their wildly popular building blocks. From toys designed for children with autism to toys traditionally designed for boys now being designed specifically for girls, children have access to a wider array of toys designed to make them feel accepted, validated, and included.
8. Environmentally Conscious Toys
As parents and children know, toys have limited life cycles. Children grow up, and toys lose their appeal over time, and many plastic toys contribute to pollution. However, toy manufacturers are now eliminating plastic from their products, making discarded toys safer for the environment. Hasbro is eliminating all plastic by 2022. All plastic is expected to be replaced by a bio-plastic alternative by 2030.
9. Toys Focused On Creativity
Although hero figurines and dolls remain popular, most toys are emphasizing creativity, education, and sensory training. For instance, Crayola still markets its ever-popular crayons, but traditional coloring books are losing ground to paper-kits that allow children to fold and craft flowers that each child can customize with a favorite dye that soaks upward into the flower for an amazing experience. Finger paints remain a favorite for sensory fun, but other tactile-based toys include something known as kinetic gravel or sand. This type of sand allows children to touch a material that does not exist in nature. It has a calming effect, making it perfect for stress release.
10. Small Screens
With a simple app, phones for children evolve into a technological play-time toy that projects cartoon characters, shapes, or learning experiences over the phone’s camera view. As such, tabletops can turn into a battleground for cartoon warriors, and a bedroom can be the second home to cartoon buddies capable of basic conversation.
Additionally, with just a phone camera, children can take pictures of artwork or doodles, which they can then insert into game templates. The templates allow children to play customized games on their phones.
Finally, if your child has a tablet, augmented-reality board games allow game pieces to be connected to the tablet, which then help your child control digital game pieces shown on the tablet. In effect, the tablet becomes a scalable board game, allowing it to be used and re-used for many different types of digital games.
Toy Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2021
1. All-time Low For Video Games
Although video games remain the highest revenue generator, sales for video games are down 10 percent since 2019 and 33.5 percent since 2012. Although this decline might seem to suggest that fewer people are playing video games, the sales figures does not take into account so-called freemium games that are free to play but include in-game purchases for such things as gear or custom avatars.
2. Number of Toys Per Child Translates into a lot of Plastic
The market for toys is a whopping 60,000,000 children. With an average of 70 toys per child, the number of plastic items introduced into the environment is in the billions.
3. Average Toy Budget
Toys are not cheap, and parents seldom spare any expense. For instance, the average budget for toys tops out at $6,500 per child from infancy until age 18.
4. Top Five Toys of All Time
With so many video games to choose from, it would be understandable for you to say the most popular toy would be any type of video game. Knowing you were incorrect in your assessment, it would then be understandable if you said the most popular toys included stuffed animals, building blocks, or toy cars. However, you would once again be wrong. In fact, the most popular toys are those that rely on the most imagination.
5. Expected Growth
Growth in popularity is expected to decline for all types of toys except for one category: action figures. Action figures are expected to top out at an average growth rate of 10 percent over 2019.
Traditional toys, such as card games and puzzles, will see an average spending of only $1.77 per child. However, video games command an average of $20.39 per child. This represents the higher price of games as well as the willingness of consumers to buy the games.
7. Construction Sets
Although video games are currently top of any child’s wish list, construction sets are set to overtake video games in both popularity and revenue generation. For instance, when it comes to total dollars spent, the difference between the two is only $1.05, which is down from 2019 when video games outperformed construction sets by $2.84 per child. By 2023, construction sets are projected to outperform video games by $4.05 per child.
In 2021, toys based on movie characters are enjoying a 19-percent increase in revenue over 2019. However, non-movie toys have only seen single-digit increases.
9. Level of Detail
When it comes to detail, children play with high-detail toys twice as long as they do with low-resolution toys or those with little detail.
In terms of engagement, you might think that some toys remain popular throughout childhood. However, on average, children lose interest in a toy within three weeks.