Gifts Today magazine

NPD: Toy buys for adults now 11% of all sales

11 per cent of all toy purchases are for adults in a growing £383m tranche of industry sales

The trend for adults buying games and puzzles, building sets, action figures and other collectables for themselves is continuing to grow, with £1 in every £9 now spent on toys for and by adults.

Last year The NPD Group revealed that British adults (18-plus) were powering growth in the toy sector by buying toys for themselves. The latest figures show that in 2017 even more money was spent on toys by ‘kidults’, a staggering 11 per cent of the overall sector. This marks an increase of 8 per cent year-on-year, and a rise of £30 million in value terms since 2016, with adult toy sales now a whopping £383m business.

Millennials (18-34 years old) account for almost half (48 per cent) of the spend among grown-ups buying toys for themselves, with many expressing their love of pop-culture by buying toys. Meanwhile Generation X-ers (35-54 years old) account for 28 per cent and Boomers (55 years+) account for 24 per cent.

Men are more likely than women to buy toys for themselves especially as they grow older. They represent 55 per cent of Millennial spend on toys, but it rises to two thirds (66 per cent) of Gen X and 70 per cent of Boomers. Whatever the gender, adults clearly favour online when buying toys for themselves. The internet claims 56 per cent of the spend compared to 39 per cent for overall toys and games. But even if Amazon and Tesco have the lion’s share of these sales, kidults tend to buy toys outside the traditional channels, preferring to shop from dedicated specialist websites.

'The wide variety in the toys adults are buying for themselves reveals the many reasons older people buy toys: from playing board games with adult friends to building sophisticated models, drones and robots,' revealed Frederique Tutt, Global Industry Analyst, Toys, NPD. 'And the collectable market has expanded beyond the timeless classics of dolls, plush and action figures to include pop culture models.'

The categories where the kidult trend is most prominent are games and puzzles (19 per cent of sales), building sets (15 per cent), action figures (12 per cent) and dolls (11 per cent).

'Rather than a nostalgic trend, I’d say much of this is providing an escape from the stresses and strains of modern day living, fulfilling our need to find down-time,' she added. 'The growing ‘kidult’ trend shows that where manufacturers and retailers can understand and meet the evolving needs of their audiences, they can grow sales in a very competitive and fast-paced sector. That is equally true whether your brand enjoys a strong heritage or features the very latest cool pop culture figure.'

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