Not Just for Young Kids: The Growth of Tween & Teen Toys

October 12, 2021 | Spurred on by the pandemic, older kids and young adults alike have sought comfort in childhood pastimes and are contributing to the growth of toys targeting these older demographics – a top 2021 Q4 trend identified by The Toy Association and supported by new data from The Insights Family, a global leader in kids, parents, and family market intelligence.

“Just as we’ve seen retailers and toymakers create more products that cater to kidult consumers, this new research from The Insights Family is proving that even tweens and teens aren’t outgrowing toys and the mental and physical benefits of play,” said Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “Toys with cross-generational appeal are inspiring the whole family to play, and we are seeing the return of old-school toy properties relaunched and reimagined for fans of past and present.”

The Insights Family’s latest data demonstrates how collectibles present one of the largest toy trends in the space for teens and tweens. Not only has the popularity of collectible trading cards amongst 13- to 15-year-olds increased by 42 percent year-over-year, compared to a mere six-percent increase in the case of 6- to 9-year-olds, but more than 20 percent of young teens are investing in the space with their own money (compared to 17 percent of 6- to 9-year-olds). One such example of this is how the explosion in price of rare Pokémon cards is contributing to a surge in the brand’s overall popularity online.

Likewise, the research found that cartoons targeting an older audience such as Cartoon Network’s Rick & Morty (a top 10 show amongst 16- to 18-year-olds worldwide) highlight the distinct market for mediums traditionally used to appeal to younger audiences. Other examples include the long-running Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants, anime hit Dragon Ball, and gaming properties like Minecraft (the No. 1 global video game among 16- to 18-year-olds, despite the game’s target demographic being much younger).

The Insights Family data also showed licensed purchases have increased in popularity among older demographics, too, with purchases again trending toward the collectible space. Though toy purchases related to favorite TV shows have fallen in popularity by 11 percent year-over-year for 6- to 9-year-olds, the popularity of these purchases has grown by 26 percent for 13- to 15-year-olds. Funko Pop! Vinyl figures, for example, are a top 10 toy among teenage girls and cover multiple IPs and fanbases.

“Ageing up toys presents new opportunities for brands looking to expand their revenue streams beyond their kid audiences,” said Jonathan Watson, chief product officer at The Insights Family. “And by targeting these older audiences with products like collectibles they can then pass down and share, toy manufacturers and brand owners are also fostering a new generation of fans in the process.”

The Insights Family, is the global leader in kids, parents, and family market intelligence, providing real-time data on their attitudes, behavior, and consumption patterns. Every year the company surveys more than 383,760 kids and more than 187,400 parents.

Freemium access to The Insights Family real-time data portal providing information on the attitudes, behavior, and consumption patterns of kids, parents, and families, is available here.