2022 Toy Trends Briefing
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After two years of living through a pandemic, today’s consumers are more driven by the experiences they have than ever. While today’s kids are growing up as digital natives, their parents care about the memories their children are making in the real world. This holiday, look out for screen-free toys that allow kids to customize their play experiences, playthings that bring digital worlds to life, and ones that super-size and innovate classic play for the whole family. This trend also encourages hands-on play and skill-building.
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Seventy-three percent of U.S. parents appreciate that today’s toys are more progressive and diverse than when they were kids, and 68 percent expressed interest in purchasing toys that expose their children to diversity and teach inclusion. Additionally, a whopping 92 percent of parents who turned to toys that help support their children’s social and emotional learning during the pandemic say they are continuing to do so. Now, when you shop your choice toy store, you’ll be met with toys that are sustainably made, speak to important social issues like climate change, create a more inclusive world, and support children’s mental health.
Kids continue to take a cross-platform approach to media consumption and 66 percent of parents now report that social media and digital content influence the types of toys their kids want. For toymakers, this means new licensing opportunities and a springboard for emerging trends in play (as seen with fidget and sensory play videos on TikTok). From Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube, to the growing mainstream popularity of gaming, there are seemingly endless new channels of opportunity for toymakers to tap.
Play is for everyone — and the numbers prove it. Children won’t be the only ones making out toy wish lists this year, as toy-spending trends indicate adults (kidults) enjoy playtime just as much as kids. Parents who reported purchasing toys for themselves rank board games (52 percent) and collectibles/fan items (48 percent) among their most sought-out categories. Additionally, 67 percent of U.S. grandparents report looking for toys they can enjoy with their grandkids when gift shopping. Playthings with cross-generational appeal will continue to resonate with toy lovers of all ages this holiday.
Toys that encourage kids to create and share their own content (think stories, artwork, videos, and photos) – are on the rise in 2022, with more toys that allow “Next Gen Creators” to flex their imaginations and customize their own play experiences. While this trend focuses on creating new content and skill-building through construction, drawing, coding, photography, filmography, etc., it is also a trend that encourages intergenerational play, allowing kids and parents to play and create together.
Hit the road (or take a mental break!) with these toys! Whether you are heading on a family vacation after two years of being cooped up at home, or simply looking to decompress from your day-to-day life, these toys focus on pure escapism. Toys under this trend include a mix of compact, travel-ready toys and games that are great for taking on-the-go, and vacation- and international-themed toys, puzzles, and games, that take you on imaginative adventures. With Genius of Play research showing that 76% of parents believe play provided a positive escape from the reality of the pandemic, we expect “kidults” to continue to turn to toys and games to destress. This trend also transports players into the digital world, tapping into the metaverse and the endless opportunities it presents – from NFTs and AR/VR, to toys tied to online & video games.
Spurred by the growth of viral videos on platforms like TikTok, ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response (and nearly 270+ billion views to the hashtag as of this writing), has become synonymous with creating warm fuzzy moments of zen out of everyday events. Despite social media driving this trend, it’s one that is grounded in physicality and in 2022, we will see even more toys that engage the senses in exciting ways. The trend includes light-up playthings that let kids express their changing moods; classic brands reinvented with new fidget play; as well as new toys that continue to provide calming social-emotional comfort and support to kids.
From sustainability and the protection of endangered species to social justice issues, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion, products that talk the talk and walk the walk are resonating with consumers across all industries. As this trend continues to grow at a rapid pace, toys have become proven tools for engaging kids in critical issues as we collectively try to build a happier, healthier tomorrow. In 2022, we’ll see a surge of toys that not only incorporate more sustainable materials but also emphasize a commitment to teaching kids how to be better global citizens. In fact, a recent Toy Association commissioned survey revealed that most parents (78%) said the sustainability of a toy for their child was important to them.
The pandemic has continued to take its toll on traditional viewing habits, as more studios opted for hybrid releases through most of 2021. While we are starting to see a shift back to the “only in-theaters” release model, we expect the brands that come out of non-linear channels (Disney+, Netflix, HBOMax, YouTube, with more launching) or take a hybrid approach to continue to dominate the toy aisles. In addition, social media influencers continue to reach beyond their channels to create new partnerships in the toy space and offer licensees immediate access to built-in audiences.