Spielwarenmesse: Consumer behavior in the German toy market

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Mutter, Vater und Kind beim Shoppen von Spielzeug


Consumer behavior in the German toy market

from Euromonitor International

The economic situation is strong overall and interest rates are low. Therefore, parents and grandparents are more likely to spend money on toys and like to treat their children and grandchildren. The current generation of parents places a great deal of emphasis on toys which provide benefits beyond the entertainment of their children. 



Market development

While it might be expected that non-traditional toys, such as computer and video games, would hamper sales of traditional games, this is not the case in Germany. This was partly driven through licensed toys, for example dolls and accessories with the Frozen license. In Germany, trends usually need more time to develop but then remain in the market longer than in other European countries. 

Traditional toys and games sales are driven by new product developments in Germany. One of the most important introductions is toy drones. Toy drones are expected to continue to gain further popularity, as an increasing share of remote control manufacturers are expected to introduce toy drones to the market. Within the toys and games market in Germany, the word drone is not that common, however, as the word has a connection to the military. Instead, the commonly accepted term in Germany for the toy is multicopter. 

With full-time schools and shortened graduation times, children have a declining amount of leisure time in their daily life. In addition, today’s children in Germany are very tech-driven and often children in kindergarten already know how to use a tablet computer or a smartphone. Multiple market experts have agreed that in Germany, traditional toys and video games co-exist and that there is a market for all kinds of toys. This is also driven by German parents, who wish to engage with their children and encourage them to partake in social activities. 

Top 5 toy manufacturers
Top 5 toy companies in Germany; market shares in % (Illustration: Spielwarenmesse; Source: Euromonitor International)

Parents in Germany trust brands and especially those they played with during their own childhood. A large number of toy brands have already been available for decades and new, private label brands have high barriers to overcome. Another reason why private label brands are rather uncommon, which is especially important in baby toys, is that parents place a great deal of emphasis on the safety of toys. Brands carry a certain promise of high quality, especially when the brand has been available for many years, which cannot be achieved by private label products.

The majority of toys in Germany are purchased for young children (population aged up to six). Most sales within this age range are for children older than 18 months. Toys for pre-teens and teenagers jointly represented around half of retail value sales as children in this age range already have command over their own money and can choose to spend it on toys. 

In addition, there is a wide range of toys available for these age groups, although it has been demonstrated that a large proportion of children in Germany spend some of their pocket money preferably on magazines. Interestingly, a considerable retail value share of toys is sold to adults (population aged over 20). 

Toy Licenses once established last long

Distribution of toys and games
Distribution of toys and games in Germany by format (Illustration: Spielwarenmesse; Source: Euromonitor International)

Many children’s films today, especially animated ones, are scripted and produced so that they not only appeal to children, but also to adults, as parents usually take their children to the cinema and watch the films with them. 

As in most European countries, Star Wars is one of the most important and best performing licenses in Germany. Overall, however, it did not negatively impact other licenses in any meaningful way. Licenses are not as popular in Germany as in other countries and need to be sustainable in order to perform well. Therefore, there are only a limited number of top-performing licenses per se, which do not suffer from competition as strongly as in other European countries. 

While it can be difficult for licenses to gain popularity in Germany, when customers have become aware of them and there is a general liking for a license, the product usually enjoys growth over multiple years and sales remain stable for longer. Licenses such as Frozen are still popular in Germany and so are lesser known or older licenses, such as The Smurfs, Pokémon or Bibi Blocksberg. 

Given that the popularity of licenses is expected to grow further in Germany, plush toy sales will also likely increase. Children like to play with their favourite characters from TV shows and films and thus tend to desire licensed plush toys. Furthermore, there is also an increasing share of electric plush toys which function and react, offering new possibilities for children’s play and therefore secure sales through innovation. 

This is an extract from Euromonitor International’s Toys and Games in Germany report. Find the complete report with current market research results here.

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Author of this article:

Euromonitor International

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