By Kristin Morency Goldman
As a benefit to its members and the wider toy community, The Toy Association continues to track and report on the hottest trends in toys, play, and youth entertainment, in order to promote toy companies’ products in the media and raise awareness of the valuable impact of play on the healthy development of children and on the mental well-being of adults, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
“Our trend team’s year-round efforts explore what’s happening in the U.S. and globally in terms of how families are spending their leisure time, which social media trends are impacting how kids play, and what’s happening in other industries and in the world at large, to ensure that we’re in tune with the likes and dislikes of families and what influences their purchasing habits,” said Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “All of the trend information we gather is crucial in helping our member companies promote and position their playthings in a way that truly resonates with their audiences.”
In February, the trends team announced the top toy & play trends of 2021, noting that the pandemic would continue to have a significant impact on play and family lifestyles. From “Zen-sational toys” that support mental health and wellness, to “kidult” toys that offer a means of escape for adults, each of the top trends underscore the incredible ability of play to inject levity and healing into our lives during times of uncertainty and stress. The team continues to promote these trends in TV segments nationwide; to date, 66 unique products from 51 companies have been shared with millions of viewers. These products are also featured in the “As Seen on TV” section on The Genius of Play website (www.GeniusofPlay.org).
As the team monitors how trends are evolving, they will present a Q4 Update this fall. The presentation will offer insight into what will be hot this Christmas. Expect to hear about the evolving kidult trend (including products that appeal to grown-up toy lovers and nostalgic toys that get the whole family playing together), sustainable toys and commitments from eco-conscious companies, and a rise in fidget and multisensory toys.
The team is also continuing its annual fall tradition of meeting with companies in-person and virtually for insight into what will be topping kids’ wish lists next year. The product information gathered (under embargo) will be used by the team to help formulate the official top trends of 2022, to be announced at the popular Toy Trends Briefing presentation at Toy Fair New York in February. The presentation is held annually for media, buyers, and other play professionals (in 2021 the presentation was held virtually), and covers developments in retail and family shopping habits, sustainability and social topics, technology, fashion, social media and pop culture, and more, all while showcasing unique new toys that are expected to drive global industry sales.
“Keeping up with what’s trending among kids is no easy task for the toy industry, which is why our trends team works year-round to stay in-the-know about what will influence the development of the next hit toys and games. Our seminar at Toy Fair represents the culmination of our work to track and identify what will resonate with families. We can’t wait to share what’s in store for 2022!” added Appell.
For more information about The Toy Association’s trend activities, visit ToyAssociation.org/trends.
As The Toy Association’s senior advisor of strategic communications, Kristin Morency Goldman keeps members of the toy community apprised of the latest global developments in toy trends, safety, retail, marketplace events, international trade, market research, and other topics impacting the business of toys and youth entertainment. She holds a master’s degree in media, culture, and communications from NYU.
This article appeared in the October 2021 issue of TFE Magazine.