Once a year, the world’s vendors of toys and games converge on Nuremberg in Germany: Famous brands, the latest innovations, trendy start-ups, buyers from the big chains, independent retailers and a plethora of media representatives make the toy fair in Nuremberg the number-one event for the toy industry. In 2015 about 2,800 exhibitors presented over a million products.
Trends and innovations are the pacemakers of the industry. But what makes a trend a trend? What turns a mere elastic band into a global icon? And what makes it so important for the tourism industry to be aware of these trends? We took advantage of our visit to the toy fair to find the answers to these questions and to relate the latest developments in the toy industry to trends in tourism. That is important because only if the providers of tourism experiences are familiar with the worlds the kids live in, with their interests and the trends that have caught their imagination, is it possible to create suitable and exciting experiences for this important target group.
For 2015, the trend scouts on the toys and games market have identified three main trends: “Little Scientists”, “Express Yourself” and “Beyond Reality”.
The “Little Scientists” trend
This group comprises toys that introduce children to natural sciences and engineering and so create a promising basis for later (professional) life. The focus here is on providing a playful experience and understanding of natural and scientific phenomena. The toys and games promote logical and analytical thinking and empower the kids to recognize technological relationships. “Little Scientists” awaken the spirit of research and discovery slumbering in every child. Instead of messing about with chemistry sets, kids can now benefit from intelligent toys to understand wind power, for example, and build their own wind-power plant. Structural calculations are explained with the help of architecture games and the human body with a complete 3D building set. Or the kids can build and take apart little spider robots and remote-controlled domestic animals.
- Tips for tourism: Open up to natural science! According to a report on tourism for children and young adults published by the German Ministry of the Economy in 2014, “Nature watching” is well up on the list of popular holiday activities for children of all ages. That signals the need to focus on nature as a fascinating experience for children. You can bring the kids into contact with nature in the form of a Research Lab or Nature Discovery Area and make it doubly exciting for them by casting them in the role of “Little Scientists”. Children aged 7 - 9 especially simply love to learn. They can be given opportunities for learning in various fields: the mountains, skiing, cable cars, animals, plants and so on. And the whole family can join in with a passion for research.
The “Express Yourself” trend
This trend is reflected in products that arouse the urge for individual creative fulfillment. More and more parents now consider it important to stimulate their children’s creative talents. The trend has been recognized by the toy industry, which is now offering more products that give children a creative experience in playful form and enable them to create individual products at the same time. Barbie clothes can now be designed by the children themselves using an airbrush; pirate ships can be assembled and then painted, while creative activity books enable the kids to work with imaginative stickers to recast everyday items and settings or creative new and original relationships. All forms of creative activity are now considered cool, including old favorites like knitting and crochet work.
- Tips for tourism: Promote the creativity of the kids and their parents! Simple maps and travel guides are passé. Today you must go with the individualization trend. Organize creativity workshops; help the kids to implement their own ideas; ask them for their opinions and listen carefully to what they say. Making something with your own hands is a wonderful experience – for young and old.
The “Beyond Reality” trend
New trends in the entertainment and electronics industries are also appearing in the toy industry, including 3D printers for the playroom that convert two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional objects. Garments and accessories are also being upgraded with new technological features to offer completely new functions, while toys can be controlled through gestures alone. With the help of innovative electronic and virtual functionalities, toys, accessories and 3D printers are now capable of creating a wholly new reality. Additional products for smartphones in interaction with apps (appcessories) are available to control games, and QR codes in the real world generate animals and landscapes that are part of a game. Smartphones and tablets can be used to steer cars, helicopters and so on, while children’s books become an interactive experience with the help of an app. This trend towards augmented reality has long found its way into the world of children, where everything is being upgraded with the help of the Internet or apps. There are even apps to bring the good old jigsaw puzzle to life.
- Tips for tourism: Apps are now a fact of life for children. If you are planning an info app for adults, remember to take account of the kids’ interests, too. You will be supporting the other two trends at the same time, because apps, etc. offer wonderful tools for the enhanced communication of knowledge and creativity. Make interactive games a part of your branding and give the kids and their parents additional kicks with calculated doses of knowledge and creative puzzles.
For more information on trends on the children’s toys and games market, go to: