by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association
So much has changed in the world since Toy Fair New York in February, and we will continue to see the pandemic’s impact on consumer trends and toy purchases through the end of the year — and well beyond.
Buyers and media looking to connect with global toy sellers during these uncertain times and track the latest products and trends are invited to attend The Toy Association’s Toy Fair Everywhere virtual market weeks, taking place this summer and fall (Aug. 17-23 and Sept. 14-20 — visit toyfaireverywhere.com. for details).
On top of filling the void left by canceled events and face-to-face meetings that normally occur between now and the holiday selling season, Toy Fair Everywhere will unveil the latest developments in toys, play, and consumer shopping habits, with The Toy Association’s trends team providing a mid-year trend briefing during the August market week, similar to the popular session held at Toy Fair New York. It will be open to all Toy Fair Everywhere virtual attendees and media. “In the short time since the toy industry last came together in New York City, the world looks very different,” says Adrienne Appell, senior director of strategic communications at The Toy Association. “This has naturally had an impact on consumer trends and, most importantly, toy purchases. Our Toy Fair trends presentation is a must-attend event, and we anticipate this second trends briefing to deliver the same level of insight and value to media, buyers, and anyone else with a stake in the toy industry.”
Since the outset of the pandemic, the trends team has been tracking developments and appearing in national broadcast segments via Zoom to highlight toys that engage kids in learning and keep families active while spending more time at home. Looking ahead, the team monitored the following trends for the mid-year update:
• Generations of Play, one of the top trends of 2020 announced by the Association earlier this year, has gained momentum amid stay-at-home orders, school closures, camp cancellations, and general anxieties related to COVID-19. Homes and backyards are being turned into minischools, daycares, play centers, and parks.
Even adults without kids are using play (typically board games) as a diversion and stress reliever. As businesses reopen and regular life resumes in fits and starts, the Generations of Play trend is expected to grow, with many having experienced first-hand how playing together unites family members of all ages and brings happiness into the home.
• Educational toys, as well as tools and resources that help children learn at home, are soaring in popularity. With back-to-school time approaching and uncertainty about school reopenings, strong sales are expected for arts and crafts, science kits, STEAM toys, and tech/robotics.
• Parent-Driven Purchases vs. Kids’ Asks: Parents were in the driver’s seat this spring, carefully selecting toys and games that were practical and functional while kids were home from school. Impulse purchases declined, with adults either shopping solo online or without their kids in stores. Expect a resurgence of popular categories like collectibles, dolls, and action figures in the months ahead, with more kids in the checkout line and putting together their holiday wish lists.
The mid-year trends update — available to watch on the Toy Fair Everywhere Platform — provides industry stakeholders with an in-depth look at what’s outlined above, in addition to a few surprises. Presenters pulled product examples straight from the virtual show floor to highlight the predictions and share the innovative toys and games that are expected to impact holiday sales.
As of this writing, upwards of 130 exhibiting companies have signed on to showcase their brands during one or more Toy Fair Everywhere market weeks, including 3Doodler, Aurora World, Carrera of America, E-Blox, Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids, Goliath, Haba, Klutz, The LEGO Group, Melissa and Doug, Safari Ltd., Schylling, Toysmith, Ty, Zing, and Wrebbit Puzzles.
Hundreds of influential buyers (including representatives from Amazon, Learning Express, Target, Walmart, Scholastic, and Mastermind Toys) are planning to participate. Buyers and media will be able to browse exhibitors by category, take part in daily educational seminars, and request appointments for virtual demos and chats using the platform.
More information on Toy Fair Everywhere — including who’s exhibiting, how to register, special event announcements, and how the virtual market weeks will unfold — is available now at toyfaireverywhere.com.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2020 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!