Impact of Toys on Tweens
Toys are for kids. But today’s kids don’t see themselves as kids any more. They are tweens, or teens waiting to happen. Traditional toys used to be sold to children up to the age of 12. But now as soon as kids cross the age of 8 they fall under the label “Kids Getting Older Younger” (KGOY).
Tweens (8 to 12s) are not only getting older younger, but also getting richer younger. Toy manufacturers are zeroing in on this new segment of the market, whose spending is estimated at billions of dollars with a projected increase of 10 percent per year. The source of their wealth is said to be generous allowances, doting grandparents, birthday money, among other sources. As they have disposable income other desires strongly compete with toys. As their aspiration level is the age group ahead of them they look for aspirational products: video games, communications devices, hand-held gadgets. They seek recognition of their financial enfranchisement.
Toys to Match Tech-Savvy Tweens
A recent study from NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., found that the average age at which kids begin using consumer electronics devices dropped from 8.1 in 2005 to 6.7 in 2007. Another market-research firm NPD Funworld of Port Washington, N.Y., found that children begin playing with computers at age 5 1/2; CDs and DVD players around six; and music players around eight. This has prompted the toy industry to fashion a new generation of kid-geared electronic gadgetry including videogame tie-ups and branded consumer electronics like digital cameras.
Mattel’s Barbie Girls is a convergence between consumer product and online brand experience. A Mattel Barbie Girl is to be connected to a computer via a docking station. The doll can be authenticated on a kid’s friend’s computer and vice-versa for online communication to begin. The girls can then go online and design their own rooms, check out their friends’ rooms and their objects, chat, play with their virtual pets and make a short trip to the mall.
Technology has become very important to the toy developer. A new set of dolls, Bratz from MGA Entertainment , with interactive gizmo replaced Barbie as the hot favorite among 8 to 12 year old girls around the world this year. Bratz get a complete makeover every three months and comes in every ethnic variation under the sun.
The chubby plastic toddler toys called Little People from Fisher-Price were launched in the 1950s for two-year-olds. Now they are sold only to one year olds and two year olds are offered Growing Smart Lap Top Computer, which teaches colors, shapes and numbers.
Toys and Technology
To the tweens technology and the Internet are not cooler than plain plumbing. According to a new study by The Nielsen Company, 5 percent of tweens access the Internet over their phone each month.
Mobile content such as the Internet is a social medium with 26 percent of tween mobile Internet users saying they access the web while at a friend’s house and 17 percent saying they do so at social events.
The report also estimates that:
- 35 percent of tweens own a mobile phone
- 20 percent of tweens have used text messaging
- 21 percent of tweens have used ring & answer tones
- 58 percent of tweens who download or watch TV on their phone do so at home
- 64 percent of tweens who download or play music on their phone do so at home
- 56 percent of tweens who access the Internet on their phone do so at home
Fast adoption of technology prevented the wholesale dumping of toys. New themes for toys are music, fashion, culture and sport. Visit Tech Toys for Tweens
Relationship with Toys
Tween’s buying power drives the contemporary pop music industry. Parents’ desire to nurture their children’s talent is creating a new wave of products and spending. The earlier niche market for toys aimed at children’s specific interests, such as singing, art, sport has grown phenomenally to help children improve their potential.
Having less brothers and sisters, working parents, a perceived fear of playing outside on the streets, make more and more children play alone. Computer games and board games emerged to fill this need gap. To a kid a favorite toy is a living thing with which he has social relationship. To be without it is unimaginable. Losing it would be like losing the family pet.
Tweens are a generation raised as consumers. They influence major purchases like the family car, what food to eat and where to go on a holiday. They make their own choices for fast food and clothes.
Toys are facing immense competition from video games for tween attention. Today’s tweens aspire for what is new and be on top or ahead of the trend. They also have a lot more money to spend on toys than any generation before them.
Marketers aim for their long-term loyalty. Catch them when they are around eight so that they become major customers on reaching teens or young adulthood.
Toys vs. Video Games
An on-line survey found that children aged five to 12 spend 4.2 hours a week playing video games. Girls split their time equally between toys and video games, but they also have a number of other leisure pursuits, particularly entertainment products and fashion. But for boys nine to 12, video games appear to be pretty much their only interest outside the toy realm, and they're putting their thumbs into overdrive, spending an average of 5.7 hours a week gaming.
Toys with lights, sounds and animatronics are being increasingly introduced to fight video competition. Traditional toy ranges are being juiced up with a series of portable, affordable electronics designed specifically for tweens, such as portable music players that spin small disks containing segments of hit songs.
Play is now recognized as an important concept for childhood education. More and more manufacturers are developing and marketing educational toys which make fun and learning go-hand-in-hand. Unique, educational toys emphasize quality and play value. Though education toys are meant to educate children they should also be fun.
Worldwide toy makers are coming up with new and improved lines of children’s educational toys and games almost every month. What was once considered specialty toys are today freely available even in stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart.
Though video games have caused a decline in games and toys over the years educational toys have been on the rise. Refer to Educational Building Toys for Tweens
- Tweens Take Over
- Tweens pass up toys for gaming
- Barbie Girls | A Social Medium for Tweens
- Getting Those Unique Educational Toys For Your Child
- Toy $tory