In part two of our interview with Stacy Leistner, VP of Strategic Communications at The Toy Industry Association (TIA), he reveals trends in tech toys, provides a retail toy industry forecast, and a look at how toy sales stack up around the world.
Independent Retailer: What technology toys are increasing in popularity?
Leistner: The most popular tech toys are those that harness the latest innovations to enhance play value. The presence of tech features alone does not impress today’s generation of digital natives. Children gravitate toward toys that have seamlessly incorporated technology to offer a fun and valuable play experience. Tablets designed specifically for kids continue to be strong sellers, as are interactive electronic toys from robotic animals to flying fairies. TIA is also watching the 3D printing phenomenon very closely. Kids have always loved to customize and personalize their toys, so we anticipate that 3D printing could take this play pattern to a whole new level.
Independent Retailer: What is the percentage of toys manufactured in the U.S.?
Leistner: The most important aspects of creating a toy, including research and development, product and safety design, and some component manufacturing take place here in the U.S. Up to 68 percent of the $13+ billion that toy companies invest each year in toy production stays in the U.S., and up to 85 percent of every toy retail dollar remains in the country, as a result of U.S. domestic operations.
Independent Retailer: What are the differences in toy sales in the U.S., South America, Europe and Asia?
Leistner: Every year, $22 billion worth of toys are sold in this country, making the U.S. toy market by far the largest in the world. The U.S. represents nearly 25 percent of the global toy market, with another 25 percent in the five major European nations and Japan, and 42 percent in emerging markets. While market share is still dominated by the U.S., market growth is happening primarily overseas. Between the year 2000 and 2012, U.S. toy sales increased by 5.8 percent, and global toy sales grew by 51percent.
Looking at retail price points, the market that spends the most per toy in the world is not the U.S. but Spain, where the average toy price is a whopping $21 (compared with $9 in the U.S.). Likewise, the total amount of money spent on toys per child is not highest in this country, but in other developed markets. The total toy spend per child in the U.S. was around $321 in 2012, whereas totals reached $352 in France, $403 in the UK, and $421 in Japan.
Independent Retailer: What are your projections for the retail toy industry going forward?
Leistner: Internet sales are continuing to increase, with retailers leveraging the convenience and often affordability of online shopping. While traditional brick-and-mortar toy retailers are more challenged than ever to capture consumers’ attention, they have some advantages over their Internet competitors. Shops are leveraging their ability to physically display products, encouraging shoppers to touch, test and play with the toys. They are also creating fun experiences in their retail space that cannot be replicated online. Looking at the year ahead, we expect to see retailers continue to develop and expand innovative marketing methods, to provide their customers with plenty of incentives to shop at local stores.
Independent Retailer: Do you have any other advice for independent retailers?
Leistner: Visiting tradeshows is a great way to spot and stock your shelves with new, innovative playthings. Keeping abreast of market and product trends, as well as the latest data on consumer behavior, will help retailers identify and deliver what shoppers are looking for, whether it be specific inventory, competitive pricing or an enhanced shopping experience, and build a creative, effective business model.
Part one of our interview with Stacy Leistner appeared in the March issue of Independent Retailer, beginning on page 26. It can be accessed online, here. To learn more about the Toy Industry Association, visit toyassociation.org.