Source: The Toy Book

Please note that this survey was conducted prior to the crisis in Ukraine.

The Toy Book caught up with several toy trade publication editors and members of the International Toy Magazine Association for a roundtable discussion on current toy trends, happenings, and challenges in their respective countries.

Dorota Mazurek, senior managing editor, Świat Zabawek, Poland

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
The Polish toy market is facing challenges similar to those faced by other European countries. Problems with raw materials and semi-finished products significantly affect games and toys’ pricing and production time. The situation is aggravated by the global container and logistics crisis, which not only affects price increases but is also responsible for delays in deliveries.

Importers also have to deal with fluctuations in exchange rates, especially for deliveries to chain stores, which often require price guarantees when ordering stock.

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
• Board games: The pandemic has caused a huge interest in board games. The demand for games grew and remains high.
• Kid at heart: This includes toys and games geared toward adults. Nostalgia, collecting, and introducing kids to brands that their parents used to play during their childhoods are common purchasing motives.
• Licensed products: Popular licenses are no longer as obvious and predictable as before. The change in media consumption has led to searches for licensed products inspired by influencers or Netflix series. Inevitably, products based on theatrical films lost their power.
• Fidget toys: Fidget toys are still trending, dominated by silicone poppers. 
• Environmental awareness: Consumers’ habits are shifting to those that will help protect our planet, and this trend is clearly visible in games and toys as well. People are starting to pay attention to whether a toy or game is produced in a sustainable way, and they are willing to pay more for them


Kerstin Barthel, editor-in-chief, das spielzeug, Germany

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
Supply chain problems are currently having a major impact on the industry. In particular, container shortages and lack of logistics capacity are lengthening delivery times and leading to significantly higher costs for manufacturers. Since last summer, trade fairs have been possible again under strict hygiene regulations. The success of trade fairs in Germany depends on the participation of foreign visitors and exhibitors. 

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
• Games and puzzles: During the COVID-19 lockdown, games and puzzles provided valuable help in keeping busy at home, turning many casual gamers into fans. The industry grew in all categories and maintained its role as the strongest product group in toys.
• Sustainability: Toys made of natural materials, such as wood, are increasingly finding their way into playrooms. In return, German consumers are willing to invest more in these products. According to a survey by the PR agency Cone Communications, 88% of consumers in this country are more loyal to a brand that is committed to sustainability.
• Licensed toys: PAW Patrol, Frozen, Peppa Pig, and Harry Potter are particularly popular. Sales of licensed toys are booming in Germany. With sales growing 16% compared to the previous year, the demand for licensed toys is outpacing nonlicensed toys.


Anne-Grethe Buroe, editor, Baby, Hobby & Leketoy, Norway

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
After Norway was shut down in the first half of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, society almost got back to normal during the summer and early fall. At the time of writing, the country has again had to introduce strict measures, especially due to the omicron variant, which has grown strongly in recent weeks. Fortunately, this does not currently affect shops and department stores, which are having their most important sales period.

Despite closed shops and department stores in the first quarter of 2021, many had record sales throughout the period. Now, they are naturally concerned about further development.

Also due to the pandemic, the industry has experienced long delivery times from the factories, as well as a shortage of containers from the East. There seems to be no remedy for the ongoing shortage of factory workers in China, containers, ships, dockworkers, and truck drivers.

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
Like in other countries, international characters, such as Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol, are popular. We also have our own local and very popular characters, such as Fantorangen — a strong figure on national TV for kids — that has recently been exported to Danish kids’ TV. A fun fact is that Fantorangen was seen in the latest James Bond movie, as several of the scenes in No Time To Die were filmed in Norway.


Lena Hedö, editor-in-chief, Lek & Babyrevyn, Sweden 

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
Container shortages and lack of logistics capacity are lengthening delivery times and leading to significantly higher costs for manufacturers and importers. Many have been forced to raise their prices and some products were delivered very late. 

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
Sustainability is the most talked-about trend, with 8 out of 10 consumers in Sweden saying that eco-friendly products are very important. Several producers of plastic toys are finding new ways to produce their products to be more environmentally friendly. Games and puzzles are selling more than ever, and this trend seems to continue growing. Arts and crafts has also grown.


Jeroen Coteur, editor-in-chief, Kids Universe, Belgium

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
The supply chain crisis has, of course, also had an impact on the Belgian market. Although it seems that — despite the delays — most kids eventually got the presents they wanted (unless it was the PlayStation 5, of course). There have been some price increases, but not to the extent that the consumer was deterred by them. The question is whether this will remain the case if costs continue to rise.

During COVID-19, Belgium caught up in terms of online sales, an era in which we lagged behind neighboring countries like the Netherlands. This means that physical stores are now focusing more than ever on the in-store experience.

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
It is no surprise that puzzles and board games have had enormous growth in our country. Licenses linked to video games are doing remarkably well. One of our biggest sales hits, the game maXimaal, was invented by an 8-year-old boy who used the game to practice math. In just one year, the card game has grown from an idea at the kitchen table to a sales hit.


Jason Guo, marketing manager, Toy China, China 

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
Last year, China’s toy industry faced two major issues. The first issue is the supply chain; shipping costs were extremely high and shipping time took much longer than in past years. Many foreign clients canceled their orders, and some clients even refused to receive the goods that had already been delivered. 

The second issue is that raw materials and labor costs increased at a higher rate compared to previous years. Many factories are now thinking about moving part of their capacity to the middle or west of China or outsourcing some production to third-party companies to reduce the labor cost. 

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
The scale of the designer toy market has developed significantly in China. According to business reports, sales of hand-made toys and toy models increased significantly in recent years. 

The sales channel in China has become more diverse since digital marketing rapidly developed in China. Besides traditional channels, more toy brands are trying to use social media or livestream channels to reach their potential customers. 


Emili Alsina, director, JUGUETES b2b, Spain

What are the biggest issues the toy industry is facing in your country?
With the supply chain crisis and the high cost of raw materials, the industry has to rethink the range of products offered by manufacturers. We are also experiencing changes in the traditional buying calendar and the decision-making process, including an emphasis on planning and inventory management. Managing our dependency on Asia is a huge challenge this year.

Sales of toys and games should go beyond Christmas. To keep projecting the importance of toys and play as an essential part of consumers’ development — no matter their age — is key.

Finally, it is important to adapt to a changing environment and adjust to new shopping habits, as well as keeping pace with the access that kids have to information and content.

What are some of the top toy trends in your country?
• Innovative products with high play value and quality at a reasonable price, plus sustainability is a major factor
• Expanding the age of the customers with toys and games directed to kidults and adults
• Innovation and creativity to inspire kids and draw them into toys and games

About the author

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik was the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book from 2020-2022. She was also a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider.

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