The Top Toy Trends for 2014

Santa’s got nothing on the Toy Fair. The exhibition space of the American International Toy Fair stretches over 412,000 square feet—that’s 7½ football fields filled with toys. Almost half of the toys from our pre-holiday spotlight won awards for “Toy of the Year” in various categories, with hands-on innovators Rainbow Loom and Goldieblox among the best and brightest. While digital natives are growing up with technology at the forefront of their everyday interactions, emphasis this year was not on digital play. Technology is rather being integrated into playtime as a base element for building and creating. Though the video game and toy hybrid market continues to rise, dominated by Skylanders and Disney Infinity, the biggest trends we saw coming out of the Toy Fair involved kids stepping away from screens and interacting hands-on with toys to create their own environments. Here are some of the major toy trends we picked up on:
 
#1—Super Sized Play
In the past few years, small figurines have dominated in the toy market, which has been a reflection of recession production and pricing. As the market rebounds and kids become more laissez-faire about new inventions than ever, companies are looking to “wow” them with the sheer size of toys, from life sized and beyond.
 
Product Standouts:
KidKraft Dollhouses
The interior of these life-sized homes for dolls are decorated down to the last detail, making Barbie’s Dreamhouse look like a starter home. Young girls can use their own dolls to play in the house, and competitor My Girls’ Dollhouse is just plain enormous, allowing for larger 18” dolls to fit.


 
Super Mario Kart Ride-On Vehicle
Millennial parents everywhere are wishing that they had real sized Mario Karts to ride around in instead of plastic vans. So, feeding into their…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I'm trying to save roughly $5,000 to buy a vehicle. It will take me another 6 months or so.” –Male, 16, NC

The year started with a report that teens are leaving Facebook, and it’s ending the same way. A report this week showed that 88% of 13-17-year-olds were using the network in 2014, a drop from 94% in 2013. We’ve looked at the reasons that teens just aren’t as interested in Facebook before, and Ypulse’s latest social media tracker survey actually showed that currently only 63% of 13-17-year-olds say they use Facebook. (Mashable)

Millennial tastes are shaping the future of fast food, and majorly impacting longstanding brands. But what chains are keeping them happy now? YouGov BrandIndex ranked the restaurant chains that 18-33-year-olds would consider going to again to gauge their current brand loyalty. Gourmet sandwich chain Jimmy John’s topped the list, with 83% saying they would return. Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Whataburger, and Subway made up the rest of the top five, in that order. (Business Insider)

Video sharing competition is heating up. Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has launched Vessel, his new subscription video service, which has been predicted to be a YouTube competitor. To entice creators to post content, they’re being offered $50 for every thousand views in the first three days they are posted, ifthey are only posted on Vessel. After a “72-hour exclusive window” the content can be shared on other sites. Currently Vessel is only open to creators, and a consumer launch “is pending.” (StreamDaily)

Kids are often shielded from adult content, usually because it is deemed too violent. But in reality, their bright cartoons might feature more carnage than grown-up fare. A recent study looked at the biggest children’s and adult movie hits in the same year and found that “two thirds of the 45 highest grossing children’s animated films feature an onscreen death of a major character” compared to half of the top “non-kid” films. “Death and destruction” are just a regular part of your average animated classic. (NYMag)

‘Tis the season for gift swaps, including the sinister favorite White Elephant—also known as Yankee Swap and Nasty Christmas. Old Navy is featuring the game in their holiday Vine campaign. Each day a video reveals gifts, from a high-end trip to a pogo stick, that will be given out, and every person who re-Vines or likes the clips is entered to win. The brand has also tapped 12 popular Viners to create their own clips in which they steal a previously opened gift or stay with the gift of the day. (Old Navy)

That image at the bottom of our newsletter is a gateway to insights and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends. Clicking on it takes readers to our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold tier subscribers, which illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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