Adults Reclaim the Toy Aisle

By: James Flippin · August 28, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nostalgia Over Novelty

As children’s focus shifts from toy chests to touch screens, toymakers have shifted focus, too.

In lieu of chasing new trends, companies like Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS) are embracing adult nostalgia to drive sales. Target audiences range from Gen Z to those with a few more candles on their cake.

The shift follows a pronounced change in purchasing habits. Physical toys are being increasingly picked up by grown-ups, looking to relive the golden years.

Toys Are for Kidults

“Kidults” — also known as “rejuveniles” and “adultescents” — have been a significant driver of global toy sales lately: Teenagers and adults are finding solace in cartoons, board games, and action figures again.

In November last year, toy sales in the US were up 75%, according to data from research firm Circana. Even in the midst of the holiday shopping season, the bulk of those sales came from kidults.

The trend isn’t just about reselling the old. LEGO, Mattel, and more have aimed new releases explicitly at adult collectors.

Toy Stories

Toy-based blockbusters like Barbie and the Transformers series have helped boost this evolving trend. With big screen hits increasingly reliant on nostalgia to drive ticket sales, leveraging the same force to sell the accompanying memorabilia is the logical next step.

So, if you’ve been eyeing that classic LEGO re-release or itching to play with Hasbro’s revamped Furby, you’re not alone. The toy aisle isn’t just for kids anymore.

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