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 use cloth diapers, and a lot of my coworkers don't quite understand this. They aren't condescending, per say, but I do think that they judge my less mainstream parenting style. Also, several of my online mommy Facebook groups can be VERY judgy.” –Female, 26, IL

Last spring Gap made headlines by voluntarily raising the company’s minimum wage to $10 an hour and let loose the viral hashtag #LetsDoMore, which has seen 90 million social media impressions to date. The fashion brand has continued to develop its ethical stance via powerful posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, recently supporting the U.N.’s #HeForShe movement and using social media as an outlet to promote women’s equality in the workplace. Though their “Dress Normal” clothing campaign may be missing the mark, their social media strategy speaks to young women in a way that they can support. (Forbes)

International news outlet Al Jazeera has introduced “Pirate Fishing,” an interactive game that lets players act as journalists investigating an illegal fishing trade. As Millennials shift their focus from traditional news sources, the game intends to bring readers “deeper into the story” for a more immersive experience. Other media outlets are seeing similar value in creating interactive story telling through gaming: BuzzFeed is currently putting together a team dedicated towards game development. (Digiday

The U.S. Navy is looking to mentorship as a way to adapt its highly regimented training routine to fit Millennial work expectations. While Millennials may not want to be friends with their superiors, they want to feel respected and receive constructive feedback, so Gen X commanders have started mirroring parent relationships with students as a way to connect and instill a sense of family values. (Businessweek)

Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and Lionsgate have announced a new project in the works titled “The Storytellers—New Creative Voices of The Twilight Saga”. The series calls for female directors to create short films based on Twilight characters, with the top five being chosen by a panel of talented females that includes Octavia Spencer and Julie Bowen. The final products will be screened on Facebook, hoping to attract new audiences with a social-media-first push. (Vulture)

Moms began ruling social media with the surge in mommy bloggers and online communities, but a recent poll of the demographic shows that social media overload may just be #TMI (too much information). 60% of new moms are considering unplugging completely from social media, and feel pressure to appear to have a perfect life online. When asked to name their turnoffs, Millennial moms named sharing too much and too often, along with too much marketing content on their feeds. (Mediabistro)

Our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold tier subscribers, 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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