It’s Not Too Late for a Holiday Toy trends forecast

10/12/2021
by Tina Manzer

Every year The Insights Family market research firm – with headquarters in Manchester, England; and offices in the U.S., Brazil, Singapore and Australia – polls more than a half-million family members of all ages across 18 countries. The purpose is to collect data on current and future attitudes, purchasing behavior, and consumption to help clients plan their holiday advertising. The firm’s most recent analysis, its “Media Planning Playbook” is available for download now at get.theinsightsfamily.com/mediamix.

In September the newsletter of the Nuremberg, Germany Spielwarenmesse provided these highlights from the report. Their focus is on toy trends that are poised to influence purchases this holiday season and into 2022. 

Co-creation

kids want to build and develop their own experiences 

A theme that’s appeared in all four of The Insights Family Future Forecast reports from 2018 to 2021, “Co-creation” has grown in strength each year. By Christmas 2021, the trend will have reached full momentum in the toy sector. 

It means that simply “consuming” a product or watching content is not enough for kids, parents, and families. Instead, they want to create, build, and develop their own personalized experiences. The demand was so prevalent in 2019 that The Insights Family declared that the terms “audience” and “consumer” were outdated. 

Currently, on average, 47 percent of European children ages 6 through 9 consider personalization to be an important factor in their purchase behavior. In the UK, for instance, if the importance of personalization continues on its current trajectory in the UK specifically (+63 percent since February 2021), it could influence the purchasing decisions of more than two-thirds of its children by Christmas! 

Toys ageing up

Could 2021 be a comeback year for tween and teen toys?

Preschoolers still play with toys the most (13 hours, 32 minutes per week in Germany), followed by kids ages 6 through 9 (9 hours). But over the last year, play has started to age up as kids between the ages of 10 and 12 – and even teenagers – became more engaged with toys. 

In France this year, tweens report playing with toys six minutes more each day compared to the time spent in 2020. Over the course of a year, that’s a 37-hour increase.

Toy purchases by tweens and teens have also been on the rise. In Germany, boys ages 10 to 15 report that they’ve been spending more of their own pocket money on trading cards, stickers and outdoor toys. The number of kids spending their own money on trading cards such as Pokémon, for instance, has increased 205 percent since January 2020, fueled by YouTubers such has Logan Paul, who create content and videos using their collections. Sales of stickers and outdoor toys increased 142 percent and 225 percent, respectively, over the same period. 

The trading card trend is partly driven by a sense of nostalgia with teens, but we can’t underestimate the power of influencers. The trend for trading cards is partly driven by a sense of nostalgia with teens, but we also can’t underestimate the power of influencers. 

Going beyond categories

Where does the definition of a video game end and a TV show begin? 

The speed of change and innovation in the kid’s industry has blurred the lines between what were once “traditional” categories. This is especially true in the digital space, with Netflix creating “choose your own story” content.

Likewise, when Fortnite began to host concerts and other in-game events, people wondered if Fortnite was a video game or social media platform. “Fortnite is a game … primarily,” explains Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. “But with every update and every new creative map, it grows closer toward being a place and a platform.” 

We are now observing this trend in the toy industry, too. LEGO (the favorite toy brand in the EU5, most popular in Germany at 13 percent) continues to blur category boundaries by utilizing the latest technology. LEGO VIDIYO combines its classic figurines with an Augmented Reality app that enables kids to create their own music videos. 

LEGO VIDIYO taps into another trend we expect to be popular this Christmas: musical toys. The kids’ entertainment ecosystem is going through an audio boom that creates exciting opportunities in the toy industry. 

Once again, innovation means entirely new categories, like the “carefully connected smart speakers” from Toniebox and Yoto. They deliver audio content through a system of collectible cards or toys. Toniebox currently ranks fifth on the list of top smart speakers in Germany for kids ages 3 to 5.


Spielwarenmesse is Europe’s biggest and most important toy tradeshow. It brings together toy industry professionals representing well-known brands and trendy start-ups, plus buyers from major chains and independent retailers. In 2020, it hosted nearly 3,000 exhibitors – 400 of them brand new – from 70 countries, and more than 62,300 visitors from 136 countries. One million products were on display and 120,000 of them were brand new. In 2022, the in-person show is scheduled for February 2 through 6.

In September, the Spielwarenmesse team reported that business is picking up again in Germany based on figures from the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry. More than 100 shows will be held in Germany by the end of the year – still in compliance with stringent safety and hygiene requirements. In Bavaria specifically, trade fairs are now permitted regardless of the incidence rate. The team expects a further easing of safety measures by the time their trade fair is held in February.

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