Shifting toy tastes spell trouble for LEGO, Mattel and Hasbro

Changes are occurring in the global toy market, with industry giants Mattel, Hasbro and the LEGO Group expected to continue to feel the impact.

With sales reported to be down, and continued trouble expected throughout 2018, Live Mint has published a long read that considers how the toy market is changing, and whether the big three can adapt to it. Mattel, Hasbro, and the LEGO Group are finding less certainty in movie tie-ins and established brands, as new disruptors offer an indication of what children want in 2018.

The article notes that small, collectible figures such as L.O.L. Surprise and Hatchimals are proving to be the current trends, which is of course notable as it was LEGO Collectible Minifigures that sparked the resurgence in blind bagged toys around a decade ago. Many of these products are pushed on social media, with YouTube offering a new way for toy distributors to get their products in front of children. “They need to think about new growth generators,” Frederique Tutt, global toys industry analyst at NPD Group told Live Mint.

More than just not offering the current trends, the core three companies are focusing too much on existing markets rather than focusing on growing ones such as Asia and Latin America. The LEGO Group is seeking to address this, although it will be some years before the company is able to solidify a position in the Chinese market.


YouTube unboxers are helping to shape new toy trends.

While the closure of Toys R Us will put a significant dent in the sales of Mattel and Hasbro, it will not be enough to affect the future of either company. The article highlights the bigger are of concern being that Toys R Us allowed the space for new, innovative lines to find their feet – the smaller space afforded to toys by Wal*Mart and Target only gives retail inches to the sure fire winners.

The fears that mobile gaming affects the amount of time for physical play is dismissed as a myth, with the evidence showing that it is TV viewing time that is shifting to smartphones, rather than traditional playtime. This suggests that while the dominant toy manufacturers might be going through a turbulent time, the industry will settle down again and the overall market is unlikely to shrink.

“You have millennial parents, having a late-in-life child,” Matt Hudak, a toys and games analyst at Euromonitor, told the website. “They may be more interested in educational toys—or just want to share Star Wars with their kids.”


Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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