March 2011 | Vol. X - No. 3
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Hi, Reyne Rice. I'm the Toy Trend Expert for the Toy Industry Association. We're here at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. It's our 108th fair, and one of the trends that we saw coming out of 2010 was the industry actually had an increase in sales; it was up 2%, which is great, because many industries had kind of a flat or had a double-digit decline, so we can see that toys actually stay stable even in a time when there's economic turmoil.
One of the big trends we're seeing in 2011 we're calling Simply Social, and it ties into the social network, which is toys that come from apps, like Angry Birds turning into toys (actual, physical toys). There's actually toys that were a toy that and are becoming an app, which is kind if an app-lite version of a toy, so people can have their toy with them anywhere they go.
There's also social alt play games, where everyone plays together and it's an immersive experience for the whole group of people. Then we're looking at socially conscious as well. And that's eco-toys, eco-friendly, global citizens, and helping kids learn about the environment and learning about a lot of different things.
Our second trend that we're seeing, we're calling Performance Play. It's active sports challenges for kids where they're actually jousting, playing, having a lot of fun but getting up and moving, so it ties into the Michelle Obama "Let's Move" campaign. There's also a lot of great dance products out there for girls and boys: gets them up and moving. They're having a great time and they start to see that exercise is a part of life instead of its being a chore.
The third piece is the Brain Games or Performance Play. Brain games really tie into all the different ways you're activating your brain through logic, math and puzzle games. And those are the top trends that we're seeing coming out of this year.
I'd say, going into 2011, the smaller manufacturers and retailers should really just keep an eye on what's happening in the mobility space and the social networking space, not only for their own individual businesses and their customers, but for where children are playing. The digital natives are a very different group of kids. They're used to seeing what's happening on mobile, they're used to having their parents give them the pass-back effect -- which means they have an iPad or an iPhone to play with sometimes. So watch that whole space and see whether or not your toys or your promotions maybe tie into some of this social space. When we came out of the CES show this year, there were over 80 tablets that were introduced -- tablet computers for adults; we've seen three coming out of the Toy Fair for kids. So this is going to continue: it's going to actually mimic what's happening in the kids' world, as to what was happening in the adult world. So keep your eye on that mobile space and what's happening in social networking.