Wait, I'm confused...

May 11, 2017

 

So, spinners huh? What happened to all the talk about screen toys and the demise of the traditional toy business? Well, you see it's the kids. They are what they are, kids! Influenced by others but not forced into anything.

 

Children like what amuses them; be that technology or a simple fidgety plaything. It wasn't that long ago all the talk was about Pog's and the mindless distraction they were. Seems to be now it's all about screens, screens, screens. "There goes the toy business down the drain!" they all are saying in many of the articles about the business.

 

The fact is, the traditional toys industry has had another big year. According to NPD, the toy industry grew by 5%, to over $20.4 billion in sales in 20016. They reported that there has been a 16% growth since 2013. Not bad for an industry that is dying. Electronics is reported as a category in the data, but it falls well below on the list of categories such as games and puzzles, dolls, plush and preschool toys. Perception, or should I say the press, is always looking for something to calm the nerves of the investors. Truth is they don't really understand the basic needs of the user; the child, and what they want. It makes for a good story. It must be those electronic thingies!

 

Technology is at a crossroads with toys. There is a lot of great technology out there, and some have worked married to toys, but they really haven't made a dent in familiar play patterns. Adding technology to a product doesn't make it a great plaything.

 

It has certainly been well documented that there is a fascination and desire to interact with screen toys. It's trendy, fashionable, perhaps a bit addictive, but underneath all that there is still the desire to play with physical toys. That need to handle, touch, turn, and explore an object is still a basic instinct to even the youngest child.

 

So, where does it leave things? Unless an electronic, technology diverse, interactive, android play pal is developed (hey, not a bad idea! I claim it!), the toy industry needs to work a little harder to get technology to work for the child and not take away the natural inquisitiveness, exploration, and physical-ness of a three-dimensional toy. They could use to work harder to understand how play can be enhanced by technology so to increase their instinct; instead of replacing it. Tall order for the tried and true old toy industry, but they can make it happen. They just need some help.

 

Maybe they should ponder the idea while fidgeting with a spinner!

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