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Millennial Parents Say This is Where Their Kids are Most Likely to See the Toys They Want for the Holidays

Kids’ wish lists can make or break the hot toys of the holiday season—but where exactly are kids getting inspiration for what they want, and how do they let their parents know? We asked hundreds of Millennial parents…


It’s November and the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. We just told you how Gen Z and Millennial non-parents are planning to shop this year, but YPulse’s recent holiday shopping plans behavioral report also looks at what Millennial parents plan to do for their children during the pandemic. Last year, we found that Millennial parents were willing to go all out for the holidays to make up for a rough year. And this year,  another holiday in a pandemic, we found the same—with 68% of Millennial parents telling us they want to buy their kids anything they want for the holidays to make up for a hard year.

When we ran a survey on our on-demand platform PULSE last month, Millennial parents told us all about the hot toys this holiday season, which include everything from Pop Its to classic toys to merch from YouTube’s biggest hits. Our Holiday Shopping Plans Report also found that toys, Legos, dolls, clothes, and gaming consoles top the list of items Millennial parents are planning to buy their kids as gifts this year. But what are the biggest influences on kids’ holiday wishlists today? While Millennials may have fond memories of circling items in catalogs and seeing Saturday morning commercials, where are their kids seeing the must-have items of the season? Using PULSE, we asked Millennial parents about where their kids are actually seeing the toys and products they want to get for the holidays: 

Today’s generation of kids are quite literally growing up on YouTube. Our recent media consumption behavioral report found that 58% of Millennial parents say their kids watch videos on YouTube daily,  and 39% of Millennial parents tell us their kids see the toys/products they want on YouTube videos. YouTube kidfluencers like Ryan Kaji and kid-centric channels like Cocomelon and Blippi have played a massive role in that. Another quarter tell us that their kids are seeing wishlist items on YouTube commercials, making the platform the undeniable driving force of the hottest holiday toys. The platform certainly far outpaces the catalogs of old, and beats out TV commercials as well.  

But despite more families and young consumers cutting the cord and the majority of Millennial parents telling YPulse their kids watch more entertainment on streaming services than cable, 36% of Millennial parents do tell us their kids see the toys/products they want on TV commercials. Of course, some streaming platforms, like Hulu and Peacock, have their own commercials, but brands should know that traditional ads are breaking through to some kids. Though, if combined digital sources far outpace traditional on this ranking so to have a more guaranteed audience YouTube is a more sure bet.

More than one in five Millennial parents tell us their kids see the toys / products they want on video games . Our last gaming report found the majority of Millennial parents say their kids are gaming weekly—and with Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox among their favorite video games titles, it was inevitable that more and more kids would see the toys / products they want directly on games. Gaming companies like Fortnite’s parent company Epic Games have partnered with toy makers like Hasbro to turn their video game characters into toys, creating the merch that this generation craves. 

Then, there’s TikTok, where 17% of Millennial parents tell us their kids see the toys / products they want. Our recent media consumption behavioral data found that nearly half of Millennial parents say their kids watch video content on a social media platform—and our social media monitor shows that 29% say their kids’ currently use TikTok. Clearly, the content they’re watching on the app is filled with products to lust after. Toy-related hashtags like #fidgettoys, #squshmallows, #hasbro, and #mattel have (and continues to) rack up millions and billions of views. Meanwhile, thanks to organic activity around their products, Mattel is launching channels for Barbie and UNO and we’ll bet that’s just the start of branded toy content on the platform.

Ok, so now that YouTube, commercials, and social media have planted the seeds of wishlist inspiration, how are kids actually telling their parents what they want for the holidays? We asked Millennial parents that as well:

Well the top way that kids are communicating what they want for the holidays is a straightforward one: half of Millennial parents tell us their kids just tell them directly what toys / products they want. There’s other traditional ways kids tell their parents what toys and products they want: More than a quarter of Millennial parents say their kids tell them what they want by  making a wishlist, while 23% say their kids still write letters to Santa Claus. But mixed in with the good old fashioned methods, some kids are telling their parents by pointing it out on a YouTube video, a video on social media, or even an Amazon wishlist.

But a third of Millennial parents also say that their kids tell them about the toys and products that they want by pointing them out in-store. Our Holiday Shopping Plans Report found that comfort with in-store shopping is much higher this year than it was in 2020, and Target and Walmart are the top stores and Gen Z and Millennials are planning to shop at for gifts. The in-person opportunity to see what kids really want could be one of the factors helping brick-and-mortar retail keep a big slice of holiday spending. 

YPulse Business users can access the full Holiday Shopping Plans behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.