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Plush Toys: Consumer Insights & Trends

Plush Toys: Consumer Insights & Trends

The Plush toys category is one of the most timeless and Plush toys are among the most common toys to be found in a child’s bedroom. One of the key consumer insights we have seen with children is that the younger they are the more important their sense of touch is. Whilst adults tend to use their sense of sights first, and all else comes after that, for children that isn’t necessarily the case. For sure children look at toys, but above all they want to touch them.

Plush toys are above all a tactile experience for children. The reason why children often take soft toys to bed with them is because soft toys made from soft fabrics are so cuddly, which is reassuring and calming for children.

One question we are often asked about Plush toys is why feature Plush is attractive to children since the tactile experience is often compromised by the addition of a big electronics unit. The secret to successful interactive Plush products is that the technology needs to be used to bring the toy to life, so that what is lost in terms of cuddliness is made up for by a toy which seems as close to lifelike as a toy can be. Children are often fascinated by animals, how they move and how they behave. Good feature Plush appears to bring the toy to life.

The current pandemic crisis has not been good for the Plush toy category for a number of reasons. For one thing, licensed Plush is a major segment of the overall category, with a large amount of volume driven by soft toy versions of movie characters from current or recent cinematic releases. Clearly this key driver of the category overall has been heavily disrupted by the closure of movie theatres across the world due to the need for social isolation to avoid the spreading of COVID-19.

Another issue this year has been (hopefully temporary) retail closures. This is particularly an issue for Plush toys – because children want to touch, feel and cuddle soft toys, this has been difficult with stores closed, and even when children can access Plush toys in Grocery and other essential retail channels, parents are most probably reticent to allow them to pick up products around the store for fear of coronavirus. Moreover, some stores have limited the number of family members who can go into a retail outlet, further reducing impulse purchase opportunities.

This ‘double whammy’ of a disrupted movie release schedule combined with retail closures has definitely had a negative effect on the Plush category short term. The good news though is that these should be temporary effects. There is simply too big a business behind the movie world for that not to rise again, and retail stores are already re-opened in much of the world. While the short-term impact on the soft toys business is harder than for some toy categories, the fundamental consumer drivers behind the longevity of this end of the toy business have not disappeared. Therefore, while the short-term outlook is tough, longer term we would expect the return of the Plush category to historical levels and beyond.

We run a Consultancy business advising toy companies on how to grow their business by a combination of strategic analysis and export sales facilitation. We have helped more than 100 toy and game companies grow. For more information on our process and methodology for growing toy sales: https://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/blog/toy-co-growth-booster-program/

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