Almost one third of US parents remain unaware to the dangers and numbers of counterfeit toys being sold on major online marketplaces, according to a new survey commissioned by the Toy Association.
The results have uncovered a blind spot in modern consumer habits, through which fraudulent toys that could be unsafe or harmful to children find their way into households this Christmas season.
It was found that one in three of the 1,000 toy-purchasing parents surveyed by Wakefield Research for The Toy Association falsely believe that counterfeit toys are not sold on major online marketplaces. Survey results also indicate that 70 per cent of US parents are planning to do half or more of their Christmas toy shopping online this year.
The Toy Associations has stated that it is therefore ‘critical’ that families ‘understand the dangers of counterfeit and imitation toys’, and how to avoid inadvertently purchasing them.
“The US toy community is committed to producing fun, developmentally valuable, and safe toys that comply with our nation’s more than 100 rigorous toy safety standards and testing regimes. Rest assured that products sold by thousands of legitimate US toy companies – whether in retail stores or online – are indeed safe,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.
“Unfortunately, bad actors frequently outside our nation manage to infiltrate online marketplaces, so we continually alert and educate parents on how to protect themselves by purchasing toys only from honest, legitimate manufacturers and sellers. The Toy Association and our members remain relentlessly focused year-round on working with government agencies and leading e-commerce platforms to combat the issue of counterfeit products and rogue sellers.”
More than a third (34 per cent) of toy-buying parents don’t know that counterfeit toys are not always tested for safety and might be unsafe to bring into the home. On the other hand, legitimate toys sold by verified sellers and known brands are tested for compliance with the US’ more than 100 strict standards and tests.
Parents are therefore being advised to dig a little deeper into a lesser-known seller’s online presence and reviews to be sure the toy they are considering is authentic – and therefore, safe.
Meanwhile, many parents admit that they might gamble on unverified sellers—and for reasons that cast safety aside. The top reasons parents would consider buying toys from unverified sellers include: the toys being out of stock everywhere else (32 per cent) or if the toy was exactly what their children wanted (31 per cent). Over a quarter (27 per cent) of parents would be enticed if the “unverified” toy was simply cheaper.
On top of this, 96 per cent of parents surveyed are confident that their children can responsibly play with a toy even if they are younger than the toy’s age recommendation.
“This is troubling because grading is not based on a child’s intelligence, but rather his or her developmental skills at a given age,” said the Toy Association. “Toys labeled 3+ might contain small parts that are a choking hazard for children under age three or those who still mouth toys.”
The Toy Association is encouraging parents to be vigilant about the toys they bring into their home by only choosing playthings from reputable, known, and verified brands and sellers. More information about toy safety and safe play can be found at www.PlaySafe.org.