Source: Pexels

by NICK RICHARDSONCEO, The Insights Family 

UNICEF says that 1.6 billion kids worldwide were unable to attend school because of COVID-19-related restrictions. As the pandemic caused disruption to the traditional schooling system, teachers and parents have turned to alternate paths in order to engage kids in their daily education.

The Insights Family — the global leader in kids, parents, and family market research and intelligence — surveys 362,100 kids, tweens, and teens alongside 176,800 parents every year. During the past 18 months, it surveyed parents on the trends emerging in toys brought on by the global pandemic.

While teachers may have turned to Zoom or other online chat platforms in an attempt to teach as normally as possible, kids and parents took learning into their own hands. As parents are becoming more involved in their kids’ education, it is important for parents to understand the influential power of play in their kid’s educational development.

One growing trend is the need for toys and games to possess dual value, especially during times of financial uncertainty that so many families face.


Parents of kids ages 3-5 were asked, “Aside from having fun, what do you want your child to gain most through play?” The top answer was creative skills (21%) followed by social skills (17%) and physical activity (15%). Toys and games that not only offer an entertainment factor, but also allow for “edutainment” elements fit this trend well.

In terms of education, 84% of parents agree that it is important for learning to be fun. This means that there is a demand in the market not only for parents purchasing toys and games, but also for these products to fuel learning in an everyday educational setting.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys are a clear example of how toys can implement edutainment into their feature offerings. Investigating these products further with The Insights Family’s Parents Insights data shows that parents from the Baby Boomer generation are the most inclined to agree that STEM subjects are the most important for kids to learn today.

Source: the Insights Family

Although this opinion trends 11% higher than that of Gen Z parents, more than 75% of those surveyed agree these are important subjects, highlighting the demand across all generations of parents for these subjects and the products that help teach them.

Curiously, however, parents in the Baby Boomer generation are the least likely to partake in science/STEM activities in a family setting. This could explain why Baby Boomers place higher levels of importance on these subjects being taught because this age group is not taking steps to include them in everyday family activities.

Perhaps there is a cross-generational opportunity to target not only parents, but also families as a whole. Brands should tailor their marketing strategies to show how STEM activities could become a pastime for the entire family and not just kids.


Currently, Gen Z and Millennial parents spend the most money on toys and games each month ($85.19), producing an average yearly spend of $1,022.28 on play products for their families, not considering fluctuations, such as holidays and birthdays, when this spend is likely to be higher.

Armed with the right data, you can properly connect with those potential customers and help inform their purchasing decisions by highlighting the features that make your products stand out from the rest of the toys on the shelf.

This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of the Toy BookClick here to read the full issue!

About the author

Nick Richardson

Nick Richardson

Nick Richardson is the founder and CEO of The Insights Family, the global leader in kids, parents, and families market intelligence. He has become a go-to expert and a regular speaker at industry events across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The Insights Family surveys more than 362,000 kids and 177,000 parents across five continents every year. You can find Richardson on Twitter @nickinsights and Kids Insights @kidsinsights.