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 learned to cook through ship to home meals like Blue Apron.” –Male, 24, IL

Some Millennial guys are embracing going gray—way ahead of time. Silver fox hair has joined man buns and merman hair as one of the fads they’re using to express themselves and stand out in the crowd. Though clearly not a widespread trend, Amazon has seen gray hair dye searches increase by threefold in the last year and some celebrities are showing of their silver dos on social media. One stylist tells the Times it isn’t about the natural look: “The demographic of guys who come to me to go gray are doing it more as a fashion statement.” (The New York TimesGothamist

Luxury fashion brands have been targeting teens through Snapchat, which is prompting some to ask if they’re ignoring their core market. Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have all had recent campaigns on the platform using teen influencers like Kendall Jenner and Brooklyn Beckham. Although the promotions might miss the mark with their traditional older consumers, as well as most older Millennials, the goal is likely to influence today’s more practical young consumers to buy (or ask their parents to buy) entry-level luxury items. One analyst says that “online as a whole now influences over 60% of [luxury] purchases.” (Forbes

Taco Bell wants to be Millennials’ favorite. Despite benefiting from Chipotle’s E.coli breakout and seeing sales rise 4% last quarter, the brand is still looking to make significant changes and continue to improve their image. New menu items like the Doritos Locos and Waffle Tacos were a hit with 18-35-year-olds, and next they’re adding cage-free eggs. Fast-casual is a threat to fast food titans, but Millennials’ craving for cheap eats isn’t going away—McDonald’s is still the most visited restaurant among 20 and 30-year-olds, thanks in part to their value menu. (Business Insider

The struggle is real for Millennials, and the upcoming movie Get a Job is bringing their employment and financial problems to the big screen. The story starts off with two optimistic, bright-eyed college graduates who are in love and ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, they soon face the challenges of a tough economy with layoffs and downsizing. While they alternately lose jobs and tell each other to “step up,” they attempt to make rent, deal with debilitating student loans, and enjoy being young.  (Entertainment Weekly

YouTube is ready to be the next Netflix. YouTube Red, their $9.99 monthly subscription service, is premiering their first original shows next week, and will launch between 15-20 new ad-free shows in 2016, some featuring popular YouTube stars. The platform plans to attain success with cheaper productions, unlike Netflix’s big budget shows, and is going after the younger viewers that grew up idolizing social media stars. With YouTube focusing on the fans, networks are expecting the influencers to help the platform take-off: “There’s a reason why [millions] of people are watching them and it’s not just because it’s free.” (Los Angeles Times

“The issue I am most passionate about is the economy, because wealth disparity is killing the American dream.” –Male, 27, TX

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