4 Trends Spotted At The 2019 New York Toy Fair

Across seven football fields-worth of toys at the New York Toy Fair this year, which trends stood out as ones that will rake in revenue? We picked four as ones to watch…

Elmo, PAW Patrol pups, and even the Toys R Us giraffe showed up to the 2019 New York Toy Fair to engage with retailers, executives, and press as they hunted for the trends that will take over kids’ wishlists this year. Plenty of trends that we’ve watched rise through the ranks over the past couple of years continued in full force at the fair, while others faded. STEAM toys remained an important educational angle for toymakers, while slime has expanded into other compounds like putty and sand. One trend that seems to have been shoved to the back of the toy box is gross-out toys and games; though there were some new offerings, like YULU’s PopPop Snotz and WowWee’s Fart Launcher, shelf space seems to have mostly shifted from disgusting to cutesy. Meanwhile, llamas are the new unicorns; the animal was everywhere, and we’re keeping an eye on sloths and narwhals to be big hits in the near future as well.

Unboxing, a trend we called out in 2018, became bigger than ever—The Toy Association is calling it “Unboxing 2.0.” The trend has expanded into an entire YouTube-fueled genre, full of influencers, ASMR, and of course, toymakers putting a spin on surprise collectibles originally inspired by L.O.L. Surprise! and Hatchimals. In addition, several iconic toys and franchises had anniversaries this year, causing toy makers to come out with new spins on nostalgic classics. But brands also went beyond throwbacks to appeal to Millennial parents, catering to adults as much as kids. Find out more about the four trends that took over the New York Toy Fair this year:

1. AR, App-Connected, Animatronic, Etc.

Toymakers want kids’ IRL…


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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “Retail should be a facilitator for experience, rather than just selling product.”—Sharmandean Reid, Founder, Wah Nails London (YPulse)

Millennials seeking portable booze are cracking open canned wine. Even though the category still only accounts for less than 1% of the Millennial-favorite alcoholic beverages’ market, Nielsen reports it spiked 69% last year and continues to gain ground. An exec at Delicato Family Wines explains, “Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.” (Wine Spectator)

Summer camps are cropping up to teach kids how to become YouTubers. At I-D Tech Camps, Level Up, and Star Camps, kids can learn all about how to, as the latter puts it, “Become an Internet sensation.” They offer courses in how to create and post videos, from shooting clips to editing audio, and how to build their personal brand. But don’t worry, most are framing YouTubing as a hobby, not a career, and setting kids’ expectations accordingly. (WSJ)

A new bill could change the free-to-play profit model that’s made games like Fortnite top earners. Senators have proposed the official ban of “loot boxes,” or items that players can buy (and sometimes must buy) to win a video game, often gambling on what’s inside. Senator Ed Markey explains that “Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds.” For some, this will eliminate a key revenue stream and open the door to review other in-game purchases.  (The Verge)

A social media overhaul upped Corn Nuts’ sales by 12%—with no paid support.The snack’s sales were stagnant before a new exec took over their Twitter, infusing it with the personable tone food brands have become known for (and sometimes notorious for). Since then, followers spiked from 650 to 21,000, and what they’re calling a “scrappy” strategy “absolutely translated to sales,” reporting that retail sales spiked 12% and Millennials’ repeat purchases rose the same percentage. (Marketing Dive)

The retail apocalypse continues, with 7,000 more stores closing their doors in 2019. CoStar Group estimates that the square footage of retail space closed has topped its own record each year since 2017, and this year they’re “predicting more of the same.” PayLess ShoeSource, Gymboree, Dressbarn, and Charlotte Russe lead the list of number stores planned to shutter this year, as retailers learn to scale down size and up Experiencification for young shoppers. (Business Insider

Quote of the Day: “It’s a really interesting time at the moment in catalog [music]…Sometimes, it’s a question of how we make something out of nothing.”—Tim Fraser-Harding, President, Global Catalogue, Recorded Music at Warner Music Group (Rolling Stone)

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