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 like Netflix because it helps to pass the time, especially when I'm doing something boring such as folding clothes.”

—Female, 16, IL

Sephora is stepping up its mobile efforts to create “addictive shopping experiences." To re-launch their private label the Sephora Collection, the beauty brand took a page from dating app Tinder, introducing a feature that allows users to browse looks and swipe left to pass, or swipe right to buy from Sephora.com. Eventually, they hope to add more “user-generated” looks with consumers’ photos. They also added the “beauty uncomplicator," a tool that helps users “whittle through thousands of makeup and beauty tools to find what they're looking for,” by filling in the blanks like Mad Libs. (Adweek

Barbie’s image makeover seems to have made a positive impression. The once-struggling franchise has seen 11% year-to-date gains and a recent 23% sales increase, despite Mattel’s other girl brands experiencing losses. Mattel credits the iconic doll’s new content marketing for its “better-than-expected earnings.” The “You Can Be Anything” campaign launched last fall, focusing on empowering and inspiring girls, and including unscripted video content aimed at Millennial parents to increase confidence in the brand and appeal to their desire for purpose-driven toys. (MediaPost

Not even alcohol can escape the “healthifying” movement. Alcohol brands are expanding their product lines to include “a host of gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar, all-natural, low- and no-alcohol drinks,” to cater to the Millennials and their increasing desire for healthier and “free-from” products. Non-alcoholic beverages that look still look “adult” have also taken off, as more young consumers are choosing to drink less. Diageo, the world’s largest spirits maker, is testing dairy and gluten-free Baileys liqueur, launching a Smirnoff vodka made with real fruit juice, and recently invested in Seedlip, a nonalcoholic distilled “spirit.” (MarketWatch

Young consumers want their financial institutions to be mobile. According to the 2016 FIS Consumer Banking PACE Index, 81% of Millennials are accessing their accounts on a computer or laptop, and 63% are accessing on their mobile phones on a monthly basis. They are 30% less likely than Baby Boomers to visit a bank location or use a drive-thru, and are 17% more likely to pay a bill from their bank through a mobile device. It’s crucial for banks to adapt to their needs—especially as over seven in ten Millennials with bank accounts anticipate at least one financial-focused life event to occur over the next 36 months. (Mashable

Over six in ten Millennials would rather lose their cars than their phones, according to a recent Wall Street study. The research looked into the attitudes and investment preferences of wealthy 18-35-year-olds globally to “restructure how the firm communicates with clients and prospects in the future.” The study also found that 50% of wealthy Millennials say they are “politically unaffiliated,” and 61% are worried about the state of the world and feel responsible for making a difference. Wall Street’s biggest challenge might be their “quick trigger” on underperforming mutual funds, with less than 20% saying they would hold on to one for more than a year. (Breitbart

Quote of the Day: “My favorite online celebrity is Jenna Marbles because she is hilarious and weird. I like how honest she is.”

— Female, 22, CA

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