Key Retail Trends in Children's Toys and Games 2021
The desire for children to play and explore is universal, which is why kids’ toys and games are still as popular as ever for keeping children entertained and helping them to develop. The Toy Association says that “Toys ignite a child’s imagination offering limitless possibilities. They also reflect cultural and societal trends unfolding within a generation.”
Play isn’t just about having fun, though. For children, play is as important as work is for adults - it helps them to learn, grow and understand the world around them. According to renowned physician and educator Maria Montessori, play helps children develop in these key areas:
So, if play is work for children, then toys and games are the tools which help them to work. Here’s an overview of what we can learn from current retail trends in children’s toys and games in 2021, and how these help children to learn, grow and develop.
Moving to the music
Musical toys are as popular as ever, but have seen a recent increase over the last few years, prompted by viral dance crazes on social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube (Flossing on Fortnite, anyone?).
Toys from TV programmes which include music continue to perform well, including the likes of American YouTube Channel and Streaming show, CoCoMelon. Their range of children’s toys and educational games include characters and scenarios from the popular show.
Kids respond well to being able to play and interact with characters from the TV shows they watch, with the toys working alongside the show content to support learning and increase brand loyalty.
Getting kids moving and staying active is a key concern for parents and educators, which could be another reason for musical toys and games being increasingly popular. Making activity and exercise fun and exciting for kids is key to encouraging healthier lifestyles.
Bringing families together
After a challenging time during the pandemic, with families unable to see extended family and friends, games that can bring the whole family together and promote connection have been important.
With families being confined to hometime activities during the COVID lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, toys and games which parents could get involved with and play alongside their children have also seen a rise in popularity.
This includes group card games, board games, and toys and games with a creative element, such as baking or arts and crafts.
Raising socially and environmentally conscious kids
Toys and games which promote living a greener and more socially conscious lifestyle are on the rise. Parents want toys that teach diversity and inclusion, whilst making kids more aware of the planet and how to take care of the environment.
Parents are coming round to the idea of making more sustainable choices when it comes to buying kids toys, opting for eco-toys made with environmentally friendly materials and production methods.
Plastic toys remain popular due to their attractive price point, generally being more affordable than wooden toys or those made with natural materials. However, as more retailers are waking up and taking responsibility for the impact their businesses have on people and the planet, there is hope that eco-friendly children’s toys and games will become more affordable and accessible to a wider range of parents and gift buyers.
Caring for mental health and wellbeing
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children. As a result, toys which help to promote good mental health and encourage children to recognise and cope with their emotions whilst practising self care have increased in popularity.
Sensory toys can help relieve anxiety in children, especially those with additional needs. Fidget popper style toys are on trend at the moment, allowing children to destress and improve concentration by directing their energy into a tactile activity.
Games specifically designed to help children be more mindful are on the increase, including the ‘Mindfulness with Kids: Rustic jar full of mindful tasks and challenges for Kids (and Big Kids)’, which teaches children (and adults!) to slow down, be more present, and become aware of the little things in life with daily mindfulness tasks.
Inspiring and educating the next generation
Toys and games which help develop skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are hugely popular for 2021, with parents keen to help their children to learn and develop through play.
Giving children their first introduction to the world of electronics, the ‘Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit’ has over 30 pieces to snap together and build real electrical circuits without the need for tools or soldering.
Winning the Toy of the Year Award, the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run is a fun engineering and building toy helping kids to develop spatial reasoning and planning skills, using logic to problem solve.
Getting more children interested in STEM subjects from a young age not only benefits their lifelong learning and development, but there is a growing need within our modern society for people with these skills across all industries. STEM focused toys teach kids the skills which could literally change the world, be it with eco-technology solutions, or discovering life-saving cures for diseases.
What do these trends in kids toys tell us about society and the next generation?
The trends in kids toys and games for 2021 suggest that parents, and children, want toys that are not only fun, but stimulating, creative, and educational too. Playtime has taken on a role as an additional teaching resource to help inspire a new generation to be more socially responsible, take care of the environment, and take care of their own wellbeing.
Promoting togetherness and connection at a time when our lives can seem detached and distant from others is an important theme for children’s play. If children truly are using games and toys as their ‘work’ tools to learn and discover the world around them, then these tools are becoming more accountable and responsible for teaching good values, and trying to improve upon the mistakes that previous generations have made in taking care of the planet and each other.
What are the most popular children’s toys for 2020 to 2021?
The Green Bean team is passionate about helping children to learn and develop through play and having fun. Our top 3 best-selling children’s toys from the Green Bean Collection from 2020-2021 have been:
There have been some exciting new releases over the last year in the global children’s retail market, with the top 3 best-selling toys for 2020-2021 being:
What have your kids loved playing with over the last year? We’re excited to see what new releases are coming for 2022!
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Melissa Brannlund is the features writer and editor, for Green Bean Studios.
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Children’s Toy Retailer of the Year 2021