NPD Study Finds Parents Crave Balance between Tech and Traditional Toys

July 8, 2013 | The influx of technology-based toys has not diminished parents’ desire to balance their children’s play experience with traditional playthings, according to a new study from the NPD Group.

Surveying more than 2,200 parents nationwide this spring, NPD’s Evolution of Play study analyzed the scope and implications of electronic device use among children, as well as general toy category performance to identify critical shopping patterns and influencers. Results show that while most parents appreciate the educational potential of technology, they are concerned that prolonged interaction with devices could foster unhealthy, solitary experiences, and believe that traditional toys offer a unique and valuable play experience. 

“This is a valuable marketing message for the toy industry,” Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at the NPD Group, said in a press release. “Virtual play and traditional play can, and need to, coexist so that children can develop broader skill sets. This creates opportunities for both integrated products and very distinct traditional toys. Parents get that; they crave it, and marketed accordingly, we’d expect most consumers to respond to such a message.”

In fact, survey results show that 51% of parents believe that devices are not taking time away from traditional toy play, compared with 40% of parents who said their kids were spending more time with tech products than with toys.

Additionally, the report indicates that tech devices are not siphoning parental spending. Parents who do spend heavily on tech devices also are active toy buyers. For example, those who spend $200 a year on devices are nearly 40% more likely to purchase action figures as well — and when they do, they spend 60% more per capita. This pattern was proven applicable to most toy categories.   

Further details on spending patterns and behaviors and the influence of technology are featured in the Evolution of Play study. To receive a complimentary preview or to purchase the full report for $15,000, contact NPD’s Charles Camaroto (866.444.1411).