“While word-of-mouth is likely taking a backseat among the youngest of kids, especially since playdates are less frequent, with technology, kids have been getting access to what’s new via other avenues,” Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst at market researcher NPD Group, told CNBC.
She added that it makes sense that if children are home almost all of the time, they are likely “spending more time than ever before” on digital entertainment like social media.
Social media influencers have a big impact on the purchasing desires of youth, and were the fourth-most cited reason a toy purchase is made, according to NPD Group’s consumer tracking service. The most common reason for a toy purchase is due to praise from friends or relatives. Reviews ranked third.
U.S. active users of TikTok topped 100 million, up 800 percent since 2018, the platform said in August. More than half of users check in with the app daily.
Toy company Zuru told CNBC that 20-25 million TikTok video views featuring its “5 Surprise Mini Brands” drove an increase in sales. The toy features mini replicas of common household products like Jello. “A combination of fan-generated and TikTok influencer videos ignited the craze,” said Renee Lee, vice president of global marketing at Zuru.
Walmart has a purchase deal on the table for a 7.5 percent stake in TikTok, and believes the platform will change the way people shop. Pending government approval, the deal also includes a 12.5 percent stake for Oracle, as well as the contract to handle TikTok’s cloud services.
TikTok had been under fire, along with WeChat, after Trump moved to ban the Chinese apps citing national security concerns. U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said on Thursday (Oct. 15) that banning WeChat would infringe on the free speech of millions of Chinese-speaking Americans.
Toy companies are clamoring for the attention of the 32 million U.S. children under the age of 14, especially as the pandemic closed schools, playgrounds and other family entertainment venues. High-end toy and game company KiwiCo told PYMNTS in March that its crates filled with educational toys, games and books were already seeing increased sales.