Nancy Zwiers and the Michael Cohen Group Ask: Are Toys Becoming More Fun?

Micheal Cohen Group Nancy Zwiers


A recent study indicates that the toy industry has dramatically improved the play value of their products over the last 10 years, highlighted opportunities for improvement both overall and in specific toy categories, and probed parents’ experiences with holiday supply chain issues. Titled “US Toy Industry Play Value Report Card: After the Toys Come Home”, the survey was fielded by play expert and founder of Funosophy, Nancy Zwiers, and the Michael Cohen Group, a prominent New York-based research firm. The Michael Cohen Group also conducted the original 2011 study of the same name. Respondents to both studies include a statistically valid, nationally representative sample of parents of children between the ages of two and six years old. Participants were asked to share their thoughts on the amount of time their children played with different types of toys in the two weeks following Christmas.


Headlining the findings is a 29-point increase in the number of parents who say their children’s toys are being played with continuously (48% in 2022 versus 19% in 2011). An increase of nearly 30 points in continuous usage shows tremendous progress on the part of the toy industry in instilling more playability, and hence more value, in their products.


While this is good news, parents reported that the majority of their children’s toys are being used only “occasionally/never,” suggesting there is additional room for improvement. Not surprisingly, computer and console games are leading the charge as the category with the least underused toys. According to parents surveyed, plush cuddly toys (23%) are the most underused types of toys among the categories measured, highlighting the most opportunity for improvement on the part of the toy industry.


The reasons parents indicated their kids are not playing with their toys remain fairly consistent from 2011 to 2022, leading with a lack of interest (66% in 2022 vs. 71% in 2011) and boredom (44% in 2022 vs. 36% in 2011). Of note, there is a 7% decrease in quality issues (“the toy broke”) over the last 10 years and a 6% decrease in age-appropriateness issues (18% in 2022 vs 24% in 2011).


Additionally, although supply chain concerns led the nightly news heading into the holidays, this survey indicates that the hard work the toy industry put into ensuring product availability paid off. Only 2% of respondents indicated that they could not find an item on their child’s wish list. Another 58% reported these items as being available and 40% reported them being somewhat available.


The toy industry is committed to providing the most engaging, enduring play experiences possible for kids and the most value for their parents’ dollars. While there is work to be done, this study provides encouraging proof of the industry’s progress. Zwiers and Cohen recently hosted a webinar with Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment and the video is available on their website.


Nancy Zwiers founded Funosophy in 2000 to provide expertise in toys and play. For more information on this survey or Nancy’s play expertise, email Nancy at:

The Michael Cohen Group is a leading research firm with a substantial business in the child and family space. For more information on company services, email Michael at: