£300m ‘kidult’ toy market is growing three times faster than toy sector overall, NPD Group reports

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Children love toys. That’s old news. But now adults are treating themselves to games and puzzles, building sets, action figures and other collectibles. New research from The NPD Group reveals that British adults (aged 18+) are powering growth in the toy sector by buying toys for themselves. Last year, one in every 11 toys sold was bought by a grown-up for personal use. This ‘kidult’ market’ – meaning adults buying kids toys for themselves – has grown 65% in value terms since 2012. It increased by 21% in 2016 alone.

Kids at heart
“Millennials” (18-34 years old) account for 50% of the spend among grown-ups buying toys for themselves, while “Generation X-ers” (35-54 years old) account for around a third and “Boomers” (55 years+) account for 18%. Men are more likely than women to buy toys for themselves. More than half of the purchases by grown-ups are made online, with Amazon and Tesco the favourite destinations. Adults without children spend more money on toys for themselves than adults with kids.  They are more likely to make impulse purchases of toys, for instance when shopping in the supermarket or browsing for other items online.

Frederique Tutt, global industry analyst, Toys, NPD, says: “The trend for the not-so-young buying toys for themselves is a sign of our times. It’s now normal in Britain to see adults playing games on their smartphones in public, and that’s true whether the adult is dressed in a hoodie or a suit. Recently, we’ve experienced a revival in the market for board games as families look to spend quality time together the old-fashioned way. The trend for people aged 18+ buying toys for themselves is possibly a reaction against the stresses of our fast-paced lives. Toys are fun – and when you are having fun any stress you might be feeling goes away. It makes perfect sense.”

Top toys for grown-ups
The categories where the ‘kidult’ trend is most prominent are games & puzzles (17% of sales), building sets (16%), action figures (16%) and vehicles (11%). Much of the growth in the older audience for toys can be attributed to the rise in collectible toys and popular characters. Star Wars and LEGO are real favourites for the more mature toy buyer. Both these brands have spanned several decades and have been successful at reinventing themselves, most recently with films, including Star Wars Episode VII, which can evoke a feeling of nostalgia among the more mature fanbase.