Sixty-three percent of U.S. toy shoppers agree that toys and games are for adults, not just children, according to research by Mintel, so marketers might want to ensure that their in-store displays and campaigns appeal to all ages.
While 48% of purchasers are most likely buying for kids younger than age 12, 30% of adults purchased toys and games for an older child, and 38% purchased for another adult in the 12 months ending September 2016. Not to miss out on the action themselves, 22% of U.S. consumers purchased a toy or game for themselves.
Adults who purchased toys for themselves or another adult are most commonly buying card or board games (21%), but arts and crafts (19%) and puzzles (17%) are also popular options. More than half (56%) of those who purchased a toy for an adult say they bought it to motivate fun, and nearly one-third (31%) purchased a toy just to “have a laugh.”
Overall, the most common reason people purchase toys or games is to give them as a gift, especially as birthday gifts (55%) or holiday gifts (46%).
“The holiday season is a crucial period for toy marketers because this is the time of year when parents and non-parents alike are purchasing toys for both the kids and adults in their lives,” says Dana Macke, senior lifestyles & leisure analyst at Mintel.
“Kids’ toys marketed to adults represent a potential area for expansion. An example is the rise of adult coloring books, which are marketed as a fun, creative activity for kids and a meditative, stress reliever for adults.”
Traditional vs. electronic
The majority of shoppers agree that playing with traditional toys is more important for child development than playing with electronic toys (53%). However, electronic toys aren’t without their fans, as 29% believe these types of toys are more important for child development. Parents with children ages 12 to 17 are the most likely to find value in electronic toys (40%), while parents with kids younger than 5 years old prefer traditional toys (57%).
When choosing a toy for a child, shoppers are most likely looking for toys that allow the child to have fun (76%) and encourage creativity (52%). However, it seems shoppers are less interested in toys and games that promote physical activity (38%), cognitive skills (35%), or motor skills (34%). The most popular types of toys for kids include arts and crafts (35%), building sets (33%), stuffed animals (30%), and toy vehicles (30%).
Gender neutrality is a trend taking hold in many children’s categories, including apparel, toys, and entertainment. However, Mintel research shows that shoppers aren’t necessarily flocking to gender-neutral items for kids, as nearly half (46%) of toy shoppers say they prefer to purchase items specific to girls or boys, and 40% say they prefer to buy gender-neutral toys.
“Overall, shoppers are interested in purchasing toys that are fun, regardless of if they’re shopping for kids or adults,” Macke says. “Toy manufacturers are continuing to embrace technology with the most anticipated toys of the year talking, flying, and interacting with kids like never before.”
Macke notes that the top toy categories for the 2016 holiday include personalized educational toys, drones that race or battle, and interactive furry friends. “Although there is clear demand for toys that encourage kids to learn and develop, toy manufacturers should be aware that shoppers likely want educational toys to be fun as well.”
Market continues to grow
The U.S. market for traditional toys and games is worth an estimated $26.1 billion in 2016, with growth accelerating over the past four years. Up 7% from 2015, and 6.9% from 2014, the strong growth of the toy market is expected to continue through 2017.
The largest segment of toys and games is outdoor and sports toys, which is about 18.4% of the total market, followed by toys and games for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at 15.8%.
“The improving economy has consumers feeling more confident in their personal financial situations, and rising wages have provided people with a little extra money to spend on treats for themselves and their families,” Macke says.
“Additionally, several ongoing blockbuster movie franchises are keeping a steady stream of popular character merchandise on the shelves. Toy companies also have reacted to changing consumer preferences by developing toys that parents are excited to buy for their kids, or even themselves.”