Innovation, inclusivity, and more: The trends that will drive the toy industry in 2022
Pandemic restrictions have caused shifting trends in the toy manufacturing industry. The nationwide lockdown confined children to their homes all day. The fear of the virus forced parents to restrict them from stepping outside, cutting off the little minds from the social world.
To keep the social learning process of children alive, parents started relying more on interactive and learning-based toys, causing a steady increase in sales in the toy sector.
India is one of the most rapidly growing toy markets in the world, and the industry is predicted to grow to $2-3 billion by 2024.. What are some of the upcoming trends we can expect in the toy sector in both, Indian and global markets?
1. Digital innovation for homegrown brands
Th year 2021 marked a significant milestone for the Indian toy industry, as the Government of India held its first Indian Toy Fair from February 27 to March 2. This was a digitally accessible toy exhibition and platform with speakers who highlighted the industry's challenges and opportunities, and paved the way for homegrown companies to flourish. Apart from that, an online toy hackathon, ‘Toycathon’, was organised for innovative toys/games concepts stemming from Indian culture and tradition.
In the years to come, there will be many such digitally-driven toy exhibitions and events addressing innovation and online features to be incorporated while creating toys.
Six global toy manufacturers have also set up manufacturing units at Koppal in north Karnataka. The toys manufactured there will be released into the domestic market around Diwali 2022. Expect many toys with a desi twist in the upcoming year!
2. Promoting inclusivity
To help children - normal or specially-abled - be comfortable and confident with their own bodies and identities, many toy companies have come out with products that are inclusive of different races, genders, ages, sizes, and physical appearances.
These include toys that children can relate to instead of the usual standardised dolls. Diversity in objects of play is being encouraged to serve as a more accurate representation of the real world, aiming to introduce children to new experiences. Such play elements cultivate compassion and empathy amongst kids.
3. Reaching out to the pop culture fan base
Now that the entertainment industry is back in full swing, many franchises have lined up their movies, shows, and games for release. Pop culture trends affect sales big time and reaching out to fan bases can help improve profits considerably.
With new releases taking a hybrid approach and with the amount of social media buzz they create, new content is now accessible to many more people than it was before. The toy industry is bound to see an influx in merchandise, thanks to the emergence of newer fan communities.
4. Do-it-Yourself Kits
Children get quickly bored when they don't have things that can keep their hands or their minds busy. With the pandemic restrictions holding them back from exploring the world through their own experiences, what better than to give them something they can experiment on from home? Do-it-yourself kits help children discover new hobbies, explore their abilities, and tap into their creativity.
5. Environmentally sustainable
Most toys are made of plastic - and people are becoming more and more sustainable. It is 2022 after all. In order to go with the trend of sustainability and create a greener earth, many new toys are being made of bamboo, sugarcane fibres, several other sustainable raw materials. Even the paints used are eco-friendly. There is going to be a boom in this space as companies are getting innovative.
6. Going family-friendly
The work-from-home model has made parents give more attention to their kids’ needs and this has led to families bonding over toys and games. Last year, we saw a rise in the sales of family board games and this trend is likely to continue.
There is also an increasing demand for sophisticated collectible figurines, complex building sets, fun board games, and difficult puzzles. Focused on toys that help explore mindsets and become aware about their physical and mental health, the family comes closer and bonds more.
As the world returns to normalcy, trends may shift but the rapid digitisation has ushered in notable changes. Today's kids are internet-savvy and exposed to a multitude of things on a global scale. A significant amount of kids are influenced by YouTubers and influencers, and this also affects their buying habits.
This means it is vital for toy makers to continue to keep up with the changing times.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)