2020 toy and gaming trends report
by: Sarah Kneebone
Good news, people: It turns out, the world still likes to PLAY!
Discover the growing global toys and gaming market trends for 2020, including industry predictions, growth drivers, category overviews, local insights and key trends to watch.
The global toys and games market is thriving despite challenging economic conditions (we’re looking at you, Trump and Boris!). In fact, the market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% during 2019-2024. The toys market alone is forecast to reach revenues of more than $120 billion by 2023.
E-commerce retailers in particular are enjoying success, as consumers move towards online shopping, and this trend is set to continue over the coming years.
Globally, major players are focusing on new product development and mergers and acquisitions to optimise their offerings, as well as partnering with local or regional players. Asia is the fastest-growing market while expenditure is highest in the United States, where collectibles feature heavily.
Where is the growth coming from?
Industry growth is being driven by a number of key factors:
- The growing number of dual-income households as well as rising income in emerging markets.
- Advances in technology (such as VR and mobile) driving demand for video games.
- Increasing social media penetration and engagement.
- A rise in consumer spending driving demand for action figures, plush toys, sports equipment, pre-school products and puzzles.
- New business models proliferating, such as subscription box services.
“The introduction of the box subscription services in this industry will revolutionize the global toys market over the next few years. The toy box subscription works by curating to the needs of the children... The proliferation of these business models will propel the development of the global toys market during the forecast period.”
Key categories: An overview.
As technology develops at pace, children are moving away from toys and towards gaming at an earlier age. This means that there is a shorter window for toy manufacturers to target this age group and categories like video games are beginning to take centre stage.
Growing demand for themed toys and games is being driven by social and mainstream media featuring cartoon characters from cult TV shows and movie franchises, such as LEGO and Transformers.
Educational, interactive and multi-functional toys are also increasing in popularity as families in developed markets choose to purchase them as a tool for childhood development.
2020 Toys and games category trends.
1. Plush toys get personal.
The global trend towards personalisation is driving innovation and boosting demand for custom-made products, such as toys with GPS trackers and sensors (what happened to the good old teddy bear?!).
Cartoon shows and action movies continue to play a key role in lifting demand for stuffed and plush toys. With blockbusters like Wonder Woman, Minions and Mulan due to be released in 2020, we can expect to see more movie-themed plush toys flooding the market, while veteran player Hasbro is lined up to create Ghostbuster toys alongside the release of the movie.
2. Education and science looks to the young female market for growth.
Increasingly health-conscious consumers are using food-related toys to educate their children about good food choices in an engaging, light-hearted way. Toys are also becoming much more of a focus for parents wanting to develop their children’s STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and maths). One particularly exciting and progressive area is the emergence of STEM-related toys that have been developed specifically to encourage young girls to become scientists and engineers such as Goldieblox, Roominate and Yellow Scope.
“According to The Toy Association’s Decoding STEM/STEAM report, toys play a crucial role in teaching STEAM concepts to kids by helping develop these necessary skills and competencies through play. In addition, the report said toys can motivate kids to get excited about new areas, make mistakes without fear, and help facilitate collaboration among peers.”
3. Baby toys get smarter - and greener.
Education is, again, the focus of baby toy trends. Parents are looking for innovative ways to help infants develop skills, such as speech recognition, through smart toys designed specifically for learning purposes.
As environmentalism continues to thrive, biodegradable packaging and product materials are also becoming more of a priority for parents.
“The developments in technologies such as sensor technology, semiconductors, etc. are anticipated to influence the expansion of the baby toys market positively in the forthcoming years.”
4. Dolls move to reflect a more inclusive mindset.
Collectibles, such as dolls and accessories, are becoming a major selling point for toys. However, Toys Association warns that this trend won’t hold out in the long-term as children will move on to different play styles (such fickle beings, aren’t they?!).
One thing to bear in mind with collectibles is consumers’ attitudes towards single-use plastics and the environment. After a bit of backlash, Woolies recently ditched their ‘Ooshies’ campaign in favour of a more environmentally-friendly collectibles promotion encouraging children to cultivate their own gardens.
We’re also seeing changing consumer attitudes shift new product development in progressive ways. One example in the dolls category comes from Mattel. The company is launching the world’s first-ever gender-neutral doll - a reflection of the growing non-binary community, young people’s increasing distaste for labels and a surge in demand for global inclusivity.
5. Building take a virtual turn.
Thinking further outside the box than traditional LEGO building blocks, creative and reusable compounds such as kinetic sand, dough, putty, and slime are now widely being used to allow children to familiarise themselves with different textures, designs and styles of construction.
However, as technology advances, children (and adults!) are increasingly turning to building virtual worlds rather than physical creations. Games like the 2019 release Dreams and the 2009 classic Minecraft are being used as a form of self-expression:
“As the tools for producing 3D virtual worlds go mainstream, more and more people are using them as an outlet for creativity and communication.”
6. Online gaming and consoles look to the cloud.
Gaming is going from strength to strength. When it comes to online gaming, MMOGs (massive multi-player online games) are experiencing extraordinary growth thanks to the phenomenon of Fortnite (a “survival” game which involves lots of fighting!) and other games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. This is helping spawn a whole host of eSports games, thanks mainly to the extraordinary leaps in technology that have made play ever-more realistic.
Looking ahead to the future, cloud gaming has the potential to expand the market for premium games beyond computers and consoles. This kind of gaming, which uses remote hardware, offers convenience and speed (as long as you’ve got a good internet connection!) without traditional “ownership”.
How to win the game.
The Toys and Games industry is a great market to PLAY with. However, it moves at pace, so it’s crucial for brands to stay on top of new trends, continually invest in product development and keep their eyes on the ball, so to speak.
“Some trends and brands can last a long time but very often they change rapidly. Managing product development is critical to success but so is managing inventory.
"If a toy producer invests in a trend and the trend tapers off, being left with too much inventory at the end of the trend can wipe out all the profit that came before. So watching trends isn't just a matter for product creation, it's critical to the mission of a toy business throughout its life.”
6 tips for toys and gaming success in 2020.
Here are our top six tips for toys and gaming success in 2020:
- Create a seamless integration of physical and digital PLAY to succeed in a technology-driven marketplace.
- Don’t forget the parents. Try appealing to Millennials’ nostalgia when they’re buying toys for their children, for example.
- Keep up-to-date with changing consumer attitudes, such as evolving beliefs about gender.
- Incorporate influencer marketing (such as famous YouTubers) into your strategy for maximum results.
- PLAY into the global “unboxing” trend by creating an element of surprise for kids. Experiment with creating unique packaging that transforms into storage or play sets.
- BONUS: If you can hack it, according to eBay, “disgustingly awesome” toys are the new “it” thing. Think spot picking, slime and toilet habit-focused toys. We might give those a miss...
Over to you.
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