Toy Companies Refocus on Teens and Tweens

July 4, 2013 | Toy companies have expanded their product portfolios, offering a plethora of outdoor activity toys, design kits, group games and licensed products for teens and tweens.

This trend marks a shift from the Kids Getting Older Younger phenomenon that consumed the market in the early 2000s, when companies assumed teens and tweens, tired of toys, were solely interested in tech products and electronics.

“Teens and tweens are eager to socialize and engage with products other than computer and TV screens — an exciting call for toys and games that the industry has responded to,” said Adrienne Appell, a trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

The tween category is critical for toy companies, as the age group accounts for more than 60% of all U.S. toy purchases; tween girls represent 80% of all doll sales and a 75% market share of arts & crafts products, while tween boys are responsible for 75% of all action figure sales.  

Recent data shows that a majority of toy and game purchase decisions are made jointly between parent and child, making tweens powerful decision makers. They are also critical future shoppers: after identifying brand preference, tweens will exhibit brand loyalty through teenagehood and into adulthood, provided that the product keeps up with quality expectation and trends.

Many of the teen- and tween-targeted toys listed here were scouted by TIA trend experts at recent product previews and the 110th American International Toy Fair this past February. The items on this list are just a sample of the many toys and games that are expected to stay hot through the Holiday 2013 shopping season: 

  • Color Rox Hair Chox™ (Fashion Angels)
    The Hair Chox set includes five temporary hair chalk colors that are applied by running the chalk through hair, and wash out with your next shampoo. The set also comes with hair rubber bands, beads and a styling tool.

  • Draw Something Party Game (Hasbro)
    A new take on the classic game of Pictionary, friends and family work together in teams as one player draws clues on the double-sided, glowing drawing screen and teammates shout out their guesses to earn coins for each correct answer.

  • The Logo Board Game (Spin Master)
    This game puts kids’ consumer knowledge to the test, challenging players to identify product logos, from chocolate to cereal, football to flowers.   

  • EZ PRO DJ (JAKKS Pacific)
    Kids can loop, mix and sample songs to create unique mash-ups with the EZ PRO DJ, drawing from music on your smart device. A recording option allows kids to save mixes to their playlists.

  • LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (LEGO)
    EV3 is anchored in a combination of classic LEGO building and the new technological advancements of toys and education, allowing players to build and program 17 model robots or create their own.

  • Celebrity Throw Down! (Buffalo Games Inc.)
    Kids choose a celebrity for hypothetical, random, kooky situations and try to survive the multiple elimination rounds to be the last one standing.

  • Yardboard (Spooner)
    Yardboard is an all-terrain downhill slider made to travel across snow, grass, dirt, sand, gravel and ramp riding, and requires no boots or bindings.

  • 1D concert band bracelets (Wish Factory)
    These collectible One Direction branded rubber bracelets feature fun slogans and names of band members. 

  • 4D History Over Time Puzzles(New Adventures)
    4D puzzles recreate the skylines of Saint Petersburg, San Francisco, Shanghai and more. The puzzles are not only in three-dimension, using scale-model buildings, but also along the 4th dimension of time; players refer to the Time Poster to place each building on the map according to the year it was built.

These are just a few examples of the many products for teens and tweens that are trending right now. For more information about toy trends and play, regularly check TIA’s website. 

TIA members who would like their toys featured on are invited to consult the Editorial Calendar and submit product information to TIA’s Jackie Retzer.