Toy Market News – What’s The Global Toy Business Outlook For 2021…?


September is typically the time when the toy business starts to look forward & begin the process of selling in the product line for the following year. The one thing we can guarantee at this point is that this will be a selling cycle no other we have experienced before.

Who knows whether Covid is going to fade away, be vaccinated out of relevance or whether we will need to manage our lives forever more with this dreadful virus in mind. What we do know at this point is that the selling cycle for 2021 will be disrupted in a way that 2020’s wasn’t. By the time Covid went global, 2020 was  already sold in.

Looking forward to 2021, we already know that Dallas & New York toy fairs in the USA will not take place this time round (although there will be some kind of event planned for Spring 2021 in the USA). Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg (the world’s largest toy trade show) is at this stage still set to happen, although with a revised program of events. It’s harder to know what will happen with regards to Hong Kong in January because so much of the real toy business is done on a closed door basis in the showrooms up and down Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. So while toy business people do not have to make a decision about attending Dallas or New York, they will have to decide on a micro basis about whether or not they visit Hong Kong this time round, which means it is likely to go ahead in some form, but with significantly reduced international visitors.

What we can presume is that every toy company now has (surely?!) established alternative methods to preview their product ranges to buyers around the world, whether this be a virtual showroom, a video montage or a travelling (socially distanced) sales effort.

The good news for all in the toy business is that overall there is no evidence (at least not that we have seen) about any reduction in consumer demand. So far in 2020 demand has been higher than usual overall, and yet again on a macro basis the toy business on a global level has proved itself to be highly resilient.

On a category by category basis we can see tailwinds in some cases of course, but whereas we were blindsided by Covid in 2020, at least we and the major Hollywood content businesses can now plan for how to get around social distancing requirements to deliver global blockbuster movie releases again in 2021. Anecdotally we’ve seen a substantial trend towards outdoor cinema (whether drive-in or not), and this seems likely to play a big part in delivering audience numbers for 2021, alongside adapted movie theaters. We can also plan to deliver across every toy category in 2021.

Humanity has proven over millions of years to be adaptable and durable, and the massive global pivoting towards the different world we now find ourselves in shows just how resilient humankind is. We therefore expect that with the opportunity to plan for a Covid restricted world, the toy business will continue to grow in 2021, and that buyers can feel reassured that of all their product categories their toy departments deliver year after year despite massive challenges.

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