Figures for the British toy market show that time-honoured play patterns of building and collecting are enjoying strong growth.
Since 2010, the building sets category has recorded value growth of over 121%, meaning it’s growing nearly six times faster than the rest of the market. Additionally, in the 12 months to August 2016, value sales of collectible cards, stickers, figurines and beanies increased by 34%.
The business performance of these ‘analogue toys’ contrast with products exploiting digital capabilities. Less than 1% of British toy sales currently belong to the web-connected toys category where they interact with an app, and NPD Group data shows that apps have not yet made the impact on toys many expected. While more and more web-connected products are coming to the British toy market, this is still not a mainstream trend.
The NPD Group believes that the popularity of building sets has been driven by innovation from manufacturers like Lego, which is currently developing animated cartoons featuring characters from these brands, regularly uploading short movies onto YouTube. These initiatives and the Lego partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm have prompted smaller manufacturers to develop building concepts too.
As an illustration of how big the collecting trend currently is, data has revealed that each child in Britain aged between five and 10 has received 11 collectible toys in the 12 months to August 2016; a big increase from the eight toys they would have received in the previous year.
Frederique Tutt, global toy industry analyst at The NPD Group, commented: “Everywhere we look, anyone above the age of 10 is glued to a screen. So, in an era when the appeal of anything digital is racing ahead, the strength in the toy world of traditional building sets as well as collectible cards, stickers, figurines and soft toys is a welcome surprise. Just as some adults still enjoy the analogue habits of reading printed newspapers and books, there is a strong analogue flavour to the toys that children enjoy most.”