No Kidding – It’s Adults Driving Toy Sales in 2023

By: Kaydee Ambas · December 20, 2022 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nostalgia and Prices Surge

Toy stores have been a destination for American children for decades, especially during the holiday season. But it turns out kids aren’t the only ones who like to play. A consumer group that’s referred to as “kidults” is one of the toy industry’s most important subsets. Older buyers account for almost 25% of all toy sales every year, according to NPD Group.

Kidults — defined as anyone ages 12 and over — have bought toys for years. But this trend has accelerated in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. That continuing demand, as well as higher prices due to inflation, is helping the toy industry keep pace.

Kidults These Days

Toy company executives say the kidult trend is partly rooted in how society has changed, in that adults are now more free to express fandom as a part of adulthood. This includes movie franchises, cartoons, superheroes, and other sources of nostalgia.

Also, some of the consumer products we now consider ubiquitous — such as branded bedding, clothing, and other collectibles — are relatively new phenomena. For example, the Star Wars franchise changed the toy game in the late 1970s. Kids who grew up with the prequel series are now in their 30s and 40s, but continue to buy some of those same products.

Supply Chain Snafus

Like all other retailers, toy stores have struggled to manage their inventory levels. Last year’s supply chain issues meant orders were placed early in a bid to avoid empty shelves. But inflation and changing consumer trends also hurt demand, leading to oversupply. The kidult group has helped companies deal with that glut, as 60% of the industry’s dollar growth was tied to older customers for the 12-month period ending in September.

But companies are still offering discounts in a bid to move product this holiday season. Bratz doll creator MGA Entertainment is selling 10 times the number of toys in the $15 and under range that it sold last year. Adults will be a bit more price conscious than kids sending Santa a wish list, but there may be similar toys on both lists.

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