Understanding The Second Coming Of Fidget Toys
At the time of writing (May 2021) Fidget toys are BACK! A quick look at the sales charts on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk suggests that Fidget toys are the hot items right now. Amazon.com has 4 Fidget toys in the top 10 best sellers for toys, and for Amazon.co.uk it’s 7 out of 10 of the best sellers.
So, what is driving this massive resurgence of Fidget toys? There are some obvious drivers to consider:
- Schools go back – the Playground Effect
The toy business was up overall during the pandemic, but there was a clear shift from kid driven toy purchases to more parentally approved purchases. Science and activity kits, board games and puzzles sales went up, but kid driven categories like collectibles and impulse toys were down. Historically, a massive driver of trends and fads in the toy business has been the viral effect of kids talking to kids in the playground at school or elsewhere. When schools & other activities were locked down and not available, this massive driver for toy sales was shut down. Once lockdowns eased, most notably in the world’s biggest toy market – the USA – then this powerful Playground Effect came back, and Fidget toys came back.
- Toy Stores re-open
Mass market generalist retailers are less critical for the starting phases of toy trends. They tend to come on board a little later when things go really big. That’s because this type of toy sells due to kids trying them out in toy stores. When toy stores reopened, suddenly there is a specialist retailer focused on getting kids playing with toys, not just shifting boxes out of the door!
- Locked down kids released to spend their pent-up pocket money
Economists have reported a massive growth in household savings during the pandemic due to lack of opportunities to spend money combined with some feelings of needing to put money away for a rainy day. The same though is likely to have occurred with kids. Whatever birthday money or pocket money they have received has clearly been burning a hole in their pockets, and so in the same way as general consumer spending has increased in those countries which have come out of lockdown, so we should logically expect the same for kids and their pocket money toy purchases.
- Tactile appeal is everything
Tactile appeal and sensory feedback are massive underlying drivers of successful toys. Children are more responsive to their sense of touch than adults generally speaking. Textures on toys are critical, and one of the recurring product feedback suggestions we give is to add more physical textures to toys to increase tactile appeal. The sense of touch is so stimulated by Fidget toys. The analogy we use with our clients is of that person in a meeting who can’t stop clicking a pen in and out repeatedly…this becomes really annoying for everyone else, but it is so compelling for the person with the pen it is hard to stop. Within that impulse lies the appeal and compulsion for Fidget toys.
- Innovation in play takes time
First time round the Fidget toy boom came and went so quickly (as is often the case with these things), that there was not a great deal of time for really high-quality product development. Several years later, creative minds have had time to stretch the concept and to work out new compelling executions of the basic idea. So, this time round the bar is set higher in terms of play experience, which hopefully will make the resurgence last longer.
Our prediction overall is that Fidget toys will keep coming back time after time, so don’t throw away any tooling or tool plans, because you don’t know how quickly the trend may come back! Every few years or so Yo-Yos make a comeback, as do plenty of retro products. Fidget toys are just one more classic play pattern set to re-emerge every few years in the future!
We run a Consultancy business for toy & game companies. We work with major toy & game companies through to start ups and one person bands. For more information on how we help toy & game companies grow their distribution around the world: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services
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