The toy industry will strike a healthy balance between classic play and new platforms and technologies in 2023 according to the US Toy Association, which has revealed its top toy trends for the year ahead.
The organisation, which unveiled its five key trends at its annual Play Date media event in New Yok, also said that kidults would continue to prove that play wasn’t just for the young.
Executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association Adrienne Appell said: “If there is one key takeaway that ties all the latest toy and play trends together, it’s that what consumers want matters more than eve. In part due to the current economic climate, today’s shoppers hold the power and the purse strings. Yes, they are being budget-savvy, but they are also being smart about what they invest in. These toy trends underscore the industry’s ability to deftly respond to this constantly evolving landscape shaped by the way toy lovers of all ages are spending their leisure time — on and off their screens — and their money.”
Its five key trends are
Back To Basics
Almost eight out of 10 parents see play as being an important part of self-care and parents using toys to help kids with social-emotional learning. It noted: “In the toy space, this concept is taking shape across a range of products that instill healthy habits – from mindfulness and good sleep habits to increased social emotional awareness through nurturing play – as well as toys that introduce kids to new hobbies and help families find joy through classic play.
Kidults and are showing that play isn’t just for the young, and those aged 12 and up are the biggest growth area in the business according to the NPD Group. The Toy Association sai: “Thanks to social media, this demographic sees a cool factor to collecting, customizing, and displaying toys on social platforms. The toy industry will respond to this demand with more toys that cater to the tween/teen demographic and beyond, including fidget/sensory toys, collectibles, arts & crafts, and tech toys.
Authenticity is key, said the Toy Association, while consumers are increasingly looking to support companies that are “enacting positive change in the world”. It added: “In 2023, expect to see toys that incorporate various ways to play for consumers of all ages, including the elderly; new tech enhancements that reinforce fun and learning; and toys that not only teach social responsibility, diversity, and sustainability, but are made by companies that engage in such practices behind the scenes. Companies will forge or expand partnerships with verified experts in fields related to education, diversity, and sustainability as the toy industry goes the extra mile to “be authentic” and deliver what truly matters to families.
MACRO TO MICRO
Unique and quirky toys, driven by social media posts and going viral, are a growth area, from oversized plush to large versions of classic games on one side and small collectibles and playsets on the other. The report noted: “While novelty and online shareability are a plus, these playthings are also sought after for their distinctive play elements – including collectability, new gaming mechanics, and highly stylized details.
POP CULTURE LIFESTYLE
Fandom is key, said the Toy Association, commenting; “From tapping into gaming and anime themes, to leveraging ‘core’ aesthetic trends on social media, to hitting a nostalgic note with re-launches from past decades, such as the 90s and Y2K, this is a trend that will engage multiple audiences, from nostalgic kidults with deeper pockets to younger kids engaging with their favourite characters and shows through streaming channels, digital worlds, and physical product. For brand owners, focusing on different fanbases offers new opportunities to expand their revenue streams.