The Future of Play: Is Your Company Offering Service & Subscription Opportunities?

June 11, 2019 | Today’s consumers value convenience and personalization – two areas that the toy industry can easily provide through curated subscription boxes and toy rental services, according to an in-depth report by The Toy Association and ProdigyWorks. The report, “Toy Manufacturing and Retail Solutions – the Future,” provides ideas on how the industry can capitalize on the changing marketplace, and appeal to new customers and retain (or increase sales with) existing ones.

“The opportunities for toymakers and retailers to offer extended services are endless,” said Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “The growth trajectory of the ‘subscription box’ has been exponential over the last decade as millennial parents seek this option to ease their busy lives, while toy rentals could tap into their desire to live more sustainably.”

In the report, ProdigyWorks futurists identify 12 key opportunities for toy manufacturers and retailers, centered around five themes, including the theme of “Looking Beyond the Thing – Service Opportunities,” highlighted below:

  • Ecommerce subscriptions for toys could be seasonal, monthly, aligned with the school year, or even school curricula. Product offerings could range from something for the whole family to toys specific to interests or age range, such as Amazon’s STEM kit boxes.
  • Toy rental services offer advantages for consumers A family could receive curated toys for a fixed time, such as when the kids visit grandma and send it back for the next set. Parents could also use the service as a way to discover new toys and games. Such a service solves two consumer problems: what to do with toys when a child grows out of them, and how to bring variety and new ways of having fun into the home.
  • Toy cleaning services offer another avenue for growth. Toy companies and retailers could offer B2B or B2C cleaning services for rental toys. This service would clean and refurbish toys for resale, reuse, sharing, or donation. The B2B service business would receive rental toys and prepare them for the next rental - including cleaning and checking parts. Consumers would also like this service for their own toys – the service could be done in their home, in a mobile unit, or by mail.

Looking Beyond the Thing – Service Opportunities is the final article in TNT’s series exploring all five themes in the ProdigyWorks report: Toy Manufacturing and Retail Solutions – the Future. Previously, TNT highlighted opportunities within the report’s themes of Toy Diaspora, Everybody Plays, Experiences, and Speaking to Consumer Values. The full ProdigyWorks report is available free to Toy Association members at