by TIFFANY TASKER, Head of Industry, Toys, SuperAwesome

SuperAwesome’s recent study, “Holiday Retail: The Purchase Power of Youth,” uncovered some big news: A whopping 85% of 6-9 year olds in the U.S. say that toys are the single biggest factor in why they want to shop in a particular store. This is interesting considering that only 7% of the slightly older tween cohort of 10-12 year olds point to toys as a driver to specific retailers.

This data tells us a few things. First, it proves that this age group enjoys toys more than virtual play and real-world items such as clothing, tech, and electronics. Last year, toys stayed at the top of 6-9 year olds’ wish lists for the holiday season. Secondly, it shows that this age of opportunity is short-lived. At age 10, kids are already moving into digital-first goods and environments and by age 12 they are solidly aged out of toys.

Let’s start with a look at young consumers. This demographic is the most digitally engaged audience ever, with kids’ access to and consumption of online content higher than ever before. We found that 40% of kids under age 16 consume digital media multiple times per day. Gaming continues as a top activity for kids. As kids age up, they prefer to game on mobile devices versus consoles. 

Although screen time and playing on mobile devices is the overarching trend with kids, the desire for physical toys remains constant. Understanding what impacts in-person shopping and purchasing behavior is particularly important in today’s ecosystem since it straddles multiple realms: online and offline, digital and physical, and real-world and virtual. Generating sales to parents and families is one thing, but in the toy space there’s an additional nuance: Where toy sales physically happen is important. Driving in-store sales at specific retailers is more important than online conversions for many toy companies, so it’s critical to shape marketing strategies around this end goal. 

Related: The 2023 Edition of The BIG Toy Book is Here!

Creating the best marketing campaigns for kids ages 6-9 starts with content. It’s imperative to meaningfully communicate each toy’s playability on the platforms kids love. Where and how the content is released is also extremely important. The app on which kids discover the toy will impact how cool they think it is, but each platform has its own trends and regulations that must be adhered to in order to deliver desired results.

YouTube remains a top platform for showcasing products and play, but how influencer content is displayed on the platform today is markedly different from even six months ago. YouTube’s new content classification system has deemed the traditional toy unboxing as “low quality” content, meaning that it will be harder to deliver views with this style. Similarly, long-form, kid-directed content is also trending down. The good news is that there are other successful ways to showcase toys on YouTube. In the fourth quarter of 2022, SuperAwesome delivered success and value to toy companies through carefully curated YouTube Shorts, collaborations between influencers that drove millions of views, and Cameo-style product features. Speaking to the consumer in bite-size and storyline-driven content that’s platform-specific and posted by top creators drives results. 

With 6-9 year olds, multiplatform and repeat messaging is a great way to drive interest and brand love. Using a TVC or a highlight reel of influencer content in places like gaming apps, Roblox, and over-the-top platforms is equally as important as YouTube. Unfortunately, delivering success with tweens is trickier. Check back in the next issue for a deep dive into how to win with 10-12 year olds!

A version of this article was originally published in the 2023 edition of The BIG Toy BookClick here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!

About the author

Tiffany Tasker

Tiffany Tasker

Tiffany Tasker is a digital media and marketing specialist for the kids and youth space. With more than 10 years of experience creating digital strategies for toy companies in the U.S., Tasker is now the Head of Industry, Toys, at SuperAwesome.