Spielwarenmesse: 5 predictions for 2020 the toy industry should know!

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5 predictions for 2020 the toy industry should know!

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Public life has ground to a halt and shops have closed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is not possible to say at this stage what impact the virus will have on business and society – but the consequences will be immense. However, some things never change: yesterday’s must-haves become today’s has-beens, as our world is in a state of constant flux. Innovative technologies are entering the market, the latest movies are capturing the hearts of children and new channels are grabbing the attention of young people on social media. Against the backdrop of all of this, what will be the trends for the decade ahead and what effect will they have on toys and how they are marketed with respect to manufacturers and retailers?

Kids Insights, the global leader in kids market intelligence, issued the 2020 Future Forecast report, which predicts some of the key trends to watch out for this year, and throughout the course of the new decade. The Future Forecast 2020 report explores how these significant transformations will impact advertising, content, licencing, marketing, product and retail strategies for brand owners.

#1 NOW IS THE TIME TO REDEFINE AUDIENCE

Children are constantly connected but unlike older audiences, they have an expectation to not just consume content, they expect to be able to co-create, co-distribute and even co-commercialise content. One of the best new platforms to fill this demand is TikTok. The social media platform is the most popular newly downloaded app for kids aged 6-12 in the last 6 months. Also the apps Minecraft and Roblox have co-creative elements and are popular with boys and girls at this age.

Whilst gaming companies and social media platforms have been successful in incorporating those strategies, more traditional industries sectors have been slower to recognise and adopt strategies which appeal and resonate with this audience. In 2020 brands need to develop an ecosystem which is agile - which not only attracts but continues to evolve with their audience to build engagement and experiences. Therefore it is important to reconsider and redefine the term audience.

2# GENERATION SPEAK TO DISTURT RETAILS 

One of the most important game-changing technologies to arrive during the last decade was AIvoice activated smart speakers. The easy-to-use nature of voice-controlled devices gives them universal appeal but affords them particular popularity with young children who are new to using devices. Kids Insights data shows that 17% of the children surveyed (internet users) in India prefer to control their devices by voice. This is considerably higher than other markets such as the US or UK, where only 12% of kids say the same. A growing voice-first generation (Generation Speak) is something brands need to consider when creating products, content or marketing to Gen Z, as well as retailers when designing their product range. Because online shopping via smart speakers such as Alexa are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers.

#3 PROVIDING ENVIRONMENTALLY AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTS

Far from being passive observers, kids and teens are now eco-advocates and spearheading action against the climate crisis. This was illustrated by school strikes reaching over 100 countries worldwide across the last year with many global organisations and parents alike supporting the action. The survey also shows that 34 % of UK parents hope to teach their children to take care of the environment before they’ve reached their 5th birthday. In France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the number of teenagers concerned about the environment is even higher, peaking amongst German teens at 47 % (Jul-Dec 2019).

So the eco-friendly credentials are of growing importance to this generation of families and will increasingly affect their purchasing habits. Companies now also understand that a clear transparent environmental strategy can put them at a competitive advantage. They not only have the power to positively influence kids and teens; they can also strategically benefit from the awareness of serious issues that is building among the next generation of consumers. 

#4 THE FUTURE OF ADVERTISING TO KIDS

Advertising and marketing budgets are facing increasing pressure as we enter the new decade.  For instance, YouTube are set to end targeted advertising on videos children are likely to be watching. These changes will potentially cause disruption to both the business model of creators on the platform and the brands who advertise with YouTube. This is because removing personalised ads (which utilise cookies) from kid’s videos effectively lowers the return on investment marketers receive from their ad spend on the platform.

The absence of targeted ads will mean brands are either forced to face a reduction in revenue from media spend, or possibly allocate their budget elsewhere. Brands are going to have to seek out innovative ways to achieve a better return on investment. One of the ways they are doing this is through utilising content as advertising. For example toy company Mattel decide to invest in films and realising live action versions of Barbie Hot Wheels and Masters of the Universe. 

The biggest growth areas over the next 5 years are expected to be eSports, gaming and virtual reality, which are already engaging high numbers of children across the world. Maybe brands have a way of utilising these platforms for advertising in the future to get their brands in front of children.

#5 WHERE WILL INXP (IN-EXPERIENCE) SPENDING GO NEXT?

The kids app market continues to grow at a significant rate and since the beginning of 2018, the number of kids in the UK who pay for apps (or make in-app purchases) has increased from 52% to 60%. Over the same period, the number of kids spending at least £1 per month has increased by 71%. 

We have seen how gaming apps have successfully adopted this microtransaction model. Many popular apps and games operate on a ‘freemium’ model, where players are encouraged to purchase additional in-game content and perks. This area is, so far, considered relatively unregulated – children are making in-experience purchases (INXP), and there have been some links made between children’s spending and gambling.

A report from the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has recommended to restrict their sale to children, a move which could shake up the business model of free-to-play games and apps.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

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