'Kidults' And Pop Culture Shape Holiday Toy Trends

The "kidulting" craze shows no sign of slowing down. New consumer research from the Toy Association, released at this week’s International Toy Fair, reveals that 89% of parents also plan to buy toys for grown-ups on their holiday list.

“Our findings indicate that parents are looking for feature-rich toys that offer a lot of bang for their buck, as well as toys that will bring the entire family together through play,” says Adrienne Appell, the association’s executive vice president of marketing communications, in the announcement.

She notes that 64% of parents want to connect with kids this holiday season, leading them to toys and games they can use together. And 43% plan to buy toys for themselves, proving that the kidulting’trend keeps gathering steam.

More than half of the men in the survey (53%) intend to treat themselves to a toy, as will 48% of millennial parents under 40. They’re not embarrassed about their love for toys, either, trading cards and cartoons, with 79% agreeing that there is less stigma today than when they were growing up around tweens and teens playing with toys past a certain age. About 20% also intend to buy toys for aging relatives this holiday.



Nostalgia is driving the resurgence of specific toy categories and brands, with 40% more likely to buy their kids toys that they played with during their own childhoods.

Other trends include:

*Conscientious consumers. Many parents, especially dads, shop based on perceptions of a brand’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and representation. Among parents under 40, 45% say they consider such factors in their decisions.

*Playing it smart. As awareness has grown about toys' role in learning, 81% of parents are “very or extremely” likely to say at least one holiday gift will have educational value. About 65% focus on whether a toy boosts skills, such as understanding STEM concepts. And 51% weigh whether a toy promotes mental well-being.

*Pop culture at play While movies and cartoons almost always shape the toys of the season, this year’s hits -- “Barbie,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” --are exerting outsized influence.

The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, included 1,000 U.S. parents.

And, in an announcement that is bittersweet for anyone who has ever had to dodge the oversized mascots on New York streets during Toy Fair, the group also announced that after 100 years, it will be leaving the Big Apple behind.

This week’s fair marks the first time the industry event has happened in person since February 2020. The next show, also scheduled for New York’s Javits Center, is set for March 2025. Subsequent shows are planned for New Orleans.

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