Not just child’s play: Two in three US toy shoppers agree toys and games are for adults, too

December 2, 2016

With the winter holiday season right around the corner and gift shopping in full swing, the latest research from Mintel on toys and games reveals this year, children and adults alike will be enjoying toys and games, as two thirds (63 percent) of American shoppers agree that toys aren’t just for kids, they can be for adults, too.

38% of toy shoppers have purchased a toy or game for another adult
While purchasers are most likely buying for kids under the age of 12 (48 percent), 30 percent of adults purchased toys and games for an older child and almost four in ten (38 percent) purchased for another adult*.  Not to miss out on the action themselves, almost one quarter (22 percent) of US consumers purchased a toy or game for themselves.

Adults who purchased toys for themselves or another adult are most commonly buying card or board games (21 percent), but arts and crafts (19 percent) and puzzles (17 percent) are also popular options. Indeed, it seems that some people never truly grow up, as more than half (56 percent) of those who purchased a toy for an adult say they bought it to motivate fun and nearly one third (31 percent) purchased a toy just to “have a laugh.”

Overall, the most common reason people purchase toys or games is to give them as a gift, especially as birthday gifts (55 percent) or holiday gifts (46 percent).

“The holiday season is a crucial period for toy marketers because this is the time of year when parents and non-parents alike are purchasing toys for both the kids and adults in their lives. Kids’ toys marketed to adults represent a potential area for expansion. An example is the rise of adult coloring books, which are marketed as a fun, creative activity for kids and a meditative, stress reliever for adults,” said Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel.

The majority of shoppers agree that playing with traditional toys is more important for child development than playing with electronic toys (53 percent). However, electronic toys aren’t without their fans, as more than one quarter (29 percent) believe these types of toys are more important for child development. Parents with kids age 12-17 are the most likely to find value in electronic toys (40 percent), while parents with kids under the age of five prefer traditional toys (57 percent).

When choosing a toy for a child, shoppers are most likely looking for toys that allow the child to have fun (76 percent) and encourage creativity (52 percent).  However, it seems shoppers are less interested in toys and games that promote physical activity (38 percent), cognitive skills (35 percent) or motor skills (34 percent).  The most popular types of toys for kids include arts and crafts (35 percent), building sets (33 percent), stuffed animals (30 percent) and toy vehicles (30 percent).

46% of toy shoppers say they prefer to purchase items specific to girls or boys
Gender neutrality is a trend taking hold in many children’s categories, including apparel, toys and entertainment. However, Mintel research shows that shoppers aren’t necessarily flocking to gender-neutral items for kids, as nearly half (46 percent) of toy shoppers say they prefer to purchase items specific to girls or boys, and 40 percent said they prefer to buy gender-neutral toys.

“Overall, shoppers are interested in purchasing toys that are fun, regardless of if they’re shopping for kids or adults. Toy manufacturers are continuing to embrace technology with the most anticipated toys of the year talking, flying and interacting with kids like never before. The top toy categories for the 2016 holiday include personalized educational toys, drones that race or battle, and interactive furry friends. Although there is clear demand for toys that encourage kids to learn and develop, toy manufacturers should be aware that shoppers likely want educational toys to be fun, as well,” continued Macke.

The US market for traditional toys and games is worth an estimated $26.1 billion in 2016, with growth accelerating over the past four years. Up seven percent from 2015, and 6.9 percent from 2014, the strong growth of the toy market is expected to continue through 2017.

The largest segment of toys and games is outdoor and sports toys, about 18.4 percent of the total market, followed by toys and games for infants, toddlers and preschoolers (15.8 percent).

“The improving economy has consumers feeling more confident in their personal financial situations and rising wages have provided people with a little extra money to spend on treats for themselves and their families. Additionally, several ongoing blockbuster movie franchises are keeping a steady stream of popular character merchandise on the shelves. Toy companies also have reacted to changing consumer preferences by developing toys that parents are excited to buy for their kids, or even themselves,” concluded Macke.

*Toy purchases in the last 12 months ending September 2016

Press copies of Mintel’s Traditional Toys and Games US November 2016 report and interviews with Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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