Overseas Toy Industry Trends • The Toy Book

Source: The Toy Book

Please note that this survey was conducted before the crisis in Ukraine.

The toy book met with several publishers of toy trade publications and members of the International Toy Magazine Association for a panel discussion on current toy trends, events and challenges in their respective countries.

Dorota Mazurek, Senior Editor, Świat ZabawekPoland

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
The Polish toy market faces challenges similar to those faced by other European countries. Problems with raw materials and semi-finished products greatly affect the prices and production times of games and toys. The situation is aggravated by the global container and logistics crisis, which not only affects price increases, but is also responsible for delivery delays.

Importers also have to deal with fluctuating exchange rates, especially for deliveries to chain stores, which often require price guarantees when ordering stock.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
• Board Games: The pandemic has sparked huge interest in board games. The demand for games has increased and remains high.
• Child at heart: this includes toys and games intended for adults. Nostalgia, collecting, and introducing children to the brands their parents used to play in childhood are common reasons for purchase.
• Licensed Products: Popular licenses aren’t as obvious and predictable as they used to be. The evolution of media consumption has led to searches for licensed products inspired by influencers or Netflix series. Inevitably, products based on cinema films lost their power.
• Fidget toys: Fidget toys are always in style, dominated by silicone poppers.
• Environmental awareness: consumer habits are changing towards those that help protect our planet, and this trend is also clearly visible in games and toys. People are starting to pay attention to whether a toy or game is produced sustainably, and they are willing to pay more for it

Kerstin Barthel, editor-in-chief, das spielzeugGermany

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
Supply chain issues are currently having a major impact on the industry. In particular, container shortages and lack of logistical capacity lengthen delivery times and lead to significantly higher costs for manufacturers. Since last summer, trade fairs have been possible again under strict hygiene regulations. The success of trade fairs in Germany depends on the participation of foreign visitors and exhibitors.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
• Games and puzzles: During the COVID-19 lockdown, games and puzzles have provided invaluable help in keeping busy at home, turning many casual gamers into fans. The industry grew across all categories and maintained its role as the largest toy product group.
• Durability: Toys made from natural materials, such as wood, are increasingly found in playrooms. In return, German consumers are willing to invest more in these products. According to a survey by public relations agency Cone Communications, 88% of consumers in this country are more loyal to a brand committed to sustainability.
• Licensed toys: PAW Patrol, Frozen, Peppa Pig and Harry Potter are particularly popular. Sales of licensed toys explode in Germany. With sales up 16% over the previous year, demand for licensed toys exceeds that for unlicensed toys.

Anne-Grethe Buroe, editor, Baby, Hobby & LeketoyNorway

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
After Norway was shut down in the first half of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, society was almost back to normal during the summer and early fall. At the time of this writing, the country has again had to introduce strict measures, especially due to the omicron variant, which has risen sharply in recent weeks. Fortunately, this does not currently concern businesses and department stores which are experiencing their most important sales period.

Despite the closure of stores and department stores in the first quarter of 2021, many saw record sales throughout the period. Now they are understandably concerned about further development.

Also due to the pandemic, the industry has experienced long delivery times from factories, as well as a shortage of containers from the East. There seems to be no cure for China’s current shortage of factory workers, containers, ships, dockworkers and truck drivers.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
As in other countries, international characters, such as Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol, are popular. We also have our own very popular local characters, like Fantorangen — a strong figure in national children’s television — who was recently exported to Danish children’s television. A fun fact is that Fantorangen was seen in the last James Bond movie, as several of the scenes from no time to die were filmed in Norway.

Lena Hedö, editor-in-chief, Lek and BabyrevynSweden

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
Container shortages and lack of logistical capacity lengthen delivery times and result in significantly higher costs for manufacturers and importers. Many were forced to raise their prices and some products were delivered very late.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
Sustainability is the most talked about trend, with 8 out of 10 Swedish consumers saying eco-friendly products are very important. Several plastic toy producers are finding new ways to manufacture their products to be more environmentally friendly. Games and puzzles are selling more than ever, and this trend seems to continue to grow. Handicrafts also developed.

Jeroen Coteur, editor-in-chief, Children’s universeBelgium

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
The supply chain crisis has of course also had an impact on the Belgian market. Although it seems that – despite the delays – most kids eventually got the gifts they wanted (unless it was the PlayStation 5, of course). There have been some price increases, but not enough to dissuade the consumer. The question is whether this will remain the case if costs continue to rise.

During COVID-19, Belgium caught up in terms of online sales, a time when we were lagging behind neighboring countries like the Netherlands. This means physical stores are more focused on the in-store experience than ever before.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
It’s no surprise that puzzles and board games have seen tremendous growth in our country. Video game licensing is doing remarkably well. One of our biggest commercial successes, the maXimaal game, was invented by an 8-year-old boy who used the game to practice math. In just one year, the card game has gone from an idea at the kitchen table to a commercial success.

Jason Guo, Marketing Manager, Toy ChinaChina

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
Last year, the Chinese toy industry faced two major problems. The first problem is the supply chain; the shipping cost was extremely high and the shipping time was taking much longer than in previous years. Many foreign customers canceled their orders, and some customers even refused to receive the goods already delivered.

The second problem is that raw material and labor costs have increased at a higher rate compared to previous years. Many factories are now considering moving part of their capacity to central or western China or outsourcing part of production to third-party companies to reduce labor costs.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
The scale of the designer toy market has grown significantly in China. According to trade reports, the sales of hand-made toys and toy models have increased significantly in recent years.

The sales channel in China has diversified since digital marketing has developed rapidly in China. Apart from traditional channels, more and more toy brands are trying to use social media or live streaming channels to reach their potential customers.

Emili Alsina, director, JUGUETES b2bSpain

What are the main problems facing the toy industry in your country?
With the crisis in the supply chain and the high cost of raw materials, the industry must rethink the range of products offered by manufacturers. We are also seeing changes in the traditional buying schedule and decision-making process, including an emphasis on inventory planning and management. Managing our dependence on Asia is a huge challenge this year.

Toy and game sales are expected to go beyond Christmas. It is essential to continue to project the importance of toys and play as an essential part of the development of consumers, whatever their age.

Finally, it is important to adapt to a changing environment and adapt to new shopping habits, as well as keep pace with children’s access to information and content.

What are the main toy trends in your country?
• Innovative products with high play value and quality at a reasonable price, and durability is a major factor
• Expand the age of customers with toys and games aimed at children and adults
• Innovation and creativity to inspire children and engage them in toys and games

About Lola C. Chapman

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