by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association

Experts from Trend Hunter will share cutting-edge insight into today’s youth and how to get consumers to engage more with brands during two presentations at this year’s PlayCon conference, from May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif.

The first session, titled “Millennial Myth-Busting and Gen Z: Destroying Assumptions of Millennials While Diving into the New Youth Generation,” will be led by Armida Ascano, Trend Hunter’s vice president of insight. Ascano will discuss misperceptions about millennials and critical subsegments of the generation, top priorities for Generation Z, and a comparison of the two generations.

During the second session, “Brand Love and Modern Entertainment: How to Create a Community Around a Piece of Content or Brand,” Courtney Scharf, vice president of research, will discuss how brands can win with consumers by providing case studies on successful brand communities and content creation, and share Trend Hunter’s 18 megatrends and how they apply to the world of entertainment.

“Toy designers, inventors, and professionals are bound to be inspired by Trend Hunter’s ideas,” said Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events. “The team’s passion and expertise for cultivating the most innovative concepts and tracking what appeals to consumers is crucial fodder that companies can use to create the next great toy or game.”

PlayCon attendees will also receive access to customized Trend Hunter reports, be invited to participate in Trend Hunter-directed “trend safaris” (self-directed walking tours to showcase innovative trend-related experiences and businesses around San Francisco), and get a chance to win free admission to one of Trend Hunter’s Future Festivals.

PlayCon’s speaker roster includes more than two dozen thought-leaders, industry analysts, toy influencers, consumer product executives, and other motivational speakers who will lead short “TED Talk”-like sessions during the conference’s new format. Confirmed speakers include: Facebook’s Eva Press; Google’s Victoria Fang; alternative reality game designer Jane McGonigal; Dale Dougherty, “father” of the Maker Movement; Jefferies’ Stephanie Wissink; Ted Curtin of ProdigyWorks; Sugarfina’s Rosie O’Neill, and more.

The Toy Association is hosting an open forum focused on succeeding over bankruptcies, retail disruption, and a changing marketplace, taking place Tuesday, May 8, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the SF Jazz Center—prior to PlayCon’s official opening. The forum is open to all toy and play professionals at no cost and registration for PlayCon is not required. Email Robyn Gibbs to RSVP.

Visit to register and for a list of up-to-date speakers, hotel information, and other news about the industry’s premier conference for play professionals.