by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association
From toys that encourage family bonding to playthings that enrich learning about everything from STEAM subjects to cultural diversity, The Toy Association’s trends team is once again gearing up to unveil the hottest trends of the year during its annual Toy Trends Briefing presentation, taking place virtually on Feb. 16.
New for this year, the briefing will offer an in-depth analysis of the state of the global toy industry with perspectives from both The Toy Association President and CEO Steve Pasierb, and The NPD Group’s Vice President and Industry Advisor for Toys Juli Lennett. Lennett’s analysis of U.S. toy industry results for 2020 will help set the stage for what is expected to unfold this year.
Normally held at Toy Fair New York, the Toy Trends Briefing is well-attended by media, buyers, and other industry professionals who want to know what kids will be asking for throughout the coming year. It is also a great way to see a sampling of the innovative toys that will drive global industry sales through the holiday season.
“After a year like 2020 when sales across several toy categories soared amid global stay-at-home orders, we are optimistic that toys will remain important for families who saw first-hand how play can benefit all ages and relieve stress during uncertain times,” says Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “The toy industry is continuing to offer families so many innovative ways to connect and have fun, while also tapping into larger cultural trends to get children, teens, and even ‘kidults’ excited about play.”
The trends team has been meeting virtually with toy companies of all types over the past few months to gather information about this year’s product launches and line extensions. This information is being kept under embargo until the Toy Trends Briefing, which will unveil the top six trends and share relevant product examples to illustrate each one.
According to Appell, this year many toymakers will be capitalizing on trends driven by social media platforms, such as TikTok, and a mounting interest in social justice movements and environmental causes.
“‘Woke’ toys are expected to be big, with parents looking to engage their children in socially conscious play. Expect to see an array of playthings that give recognition to the diversity of our world and encourage children to become better global citizens,” Appell says.
Social media, influencers, and nonlinear platforms will also continue to pave the way for licensed toy sales, with delays for major film releases creating new opportunities for original IPs to find their way through the noise and make an impact at retail across multiple categories — a trend that emerged a few years ago and will accelerate as a result of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly had a major impact on the global toy industry and will have a ripple effect into 2021 and beyond,” Appell says. “It’s great to see how many families have become attuned to the benefits of play, especially as it offers a means of escape from what’s happening in the world. The toy industry is really stepping up and creating playthings that offer a moment of zen and even help children navigate less-than-ideal circumstances.”
Retail buyers, media, and other play professionals can mark their calendars for the digital release of The Toy Association’s 2021 “Toy Trends Briefing” on Feb. 16. The presentation will be made available for viewing to all on The Toy Association’s YouTube channel.