More toy makers are downright giddy these days, happily struggling to keep up with demand for their Star Wars, Pokémon, and Minecraft products and logging sales gains they haven’t seen since the turn of the century.
US toy sales are on track to climb about 7% in 2016. The nation’s toy market hasn’t seen this kind of growth since 1999.
The NPD Group projects that toy sales logged an impressive 7.5% growth rate during the first half of 2016, which was already higher than the growth rate in mid-2015.
As a result, toy producers are well-positioned as the nation’s brick-and-mortar and online retailers enter the often make-or-break holiday selling season.
Altogether, the 500-plus establishments that comprise the US toy and game manufacturing industry generate about $2 billion in annual revenue, according to D&B First Research. The industry’s key growth drivers include product innovations and increases in personal income.
Companies that have earned the largest share of popular toy categories are seeing some of the biggest sales increases.
Outdoor and sports toys, the largest toy category, accounted for 32% of total toy industry growth for the year so far. Analysts attribute the category’s surge in popularity to millennials seeking a healthier, outdoor lifestyle for their children.
During the first half of 2016, action figures and dolls were two of the fastest-growing categories, at 19% and 14%, respectively.
Having achieved sales of $700 million in 2015, Star Wars remains a top-selling name and was the biggest contributor to the industry’s midyear growth. Other popular US toy properties include NERF, Pokémon, Barbie, LEGO Star Wars, Little Tikes, and Hot Wheels. Shopkins, Minecraft, and Disney Frozen reappeared as popular carryovers from 2015. The worst-performing toy categories were youth electronics and arts and crafts.
Industry Impact — Toy and game makers will need to adjust manufacturing plans to meeting rising demand for toys that reflect millennials’ preferences.
Tracking the moves of consumer products makers since 2003, Catherine Colbert is an industry researcher, writer, and blogger. Previously, she spent ample time in magazine publishing, technical writing, ad copywriting, medical writing, and marketing. Follow her on Twitter.