Market analysis I Going one step further than play

Market intelligence experts The Insights Family on why expanding their toys’ ecosystems reaps rewards for brands

The kids’ entertainment ecosystem continues to become more fragmented than ever.

In 2020, the top 10 favourite TV shows amongst 3–5-year-olds made up 84% of the market share. Twelve months on, the top 10 represent just 68% of the market, a considerable decrease.

Therefore, to maximise brand exposure in a saturated marketplace, it’s never been more important to expand kids’ IP and create a presence across multiple touchpoints in the ecosystem. Our data shows the top ways children aged 3-5 interact with their favourite characters and IPs is watching on YouTube (37%), followed by watching on streaming platforms (36%), playing video games (30%), and purchasing toys or games (29%).

We’re seeing a host of toy brands expand their ecosystem, by creating more experiences across these touchpoints than just toys for their fans.

So, the question is, is it working?

There are lots of examples which show these more innovative approaches to be working across the toys category – we have seen significant positive uplifts around awareness, preference, and purchase intent for brands such as Playmobil, PAW Patrol, Rubik’s, LEGO, LOL Dolls and Mattel after sizeable digital campaigns.

At the time of the Playmobil movie release in August 2019, Playmobil toys spiked in popularity by 103% compared to the previous 3 months – showing a positive impact on the brand’s popularity overall.

Our data shows the top purchases of kids aged 3–9 who watched Playmobil: The Movie are Books, Magazines & Comics, and Toys, over-indexing by 90%, 74%, and 15% respectively.

We also tracked the PAW Patrol movie in the run-up to its recent release. The movie was the most anticipated release during June – August with 15% of 3-5s looking forward to its release.

Our data also shows the children who are most looking forward to watching the movie are most likely to buy Toys (63%), Magazines & Comics (35%) and Clothes (28%) related to their favourite films.

Early indications also show that between May-August 2021, Chase – the lead character – increased as a favourite by 65% in the run-up to the film’s release, illustrating the positive effect on the wider brand from these extensions. Furthermore, our data shows the popularity of the TV show also increased by 14% when compared against the first 4 months of 2021.

MGA Entertainment are also expanding their universe by experimenting with events and experiences, with L.O.L Surprise! Dolls going on their first UK arena concert tour. The move comes at a good time, not because live events are opening post-coronavirus, but because our data shows the majority of parents (53%) with 5-9-year-olds (the key age of L.O.L Surprise! fans) prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than products.

The brand has also experimented with digital experiences too. Tapping into the trend for co-gaming, earlier this year they created a new experience within the video game Roblox for kids to play. With this generation as comfortable existing in a virtual world as the physical, they expect seamless integration between the two.

Other brands are also turning to the big screen to expand their worlds. Mattel continue to bring their toys to life on screen, with movies based on Barbie, Hot Wheels, and even UNO in the works – all of which we track prior to their release to provide clients with insights on how they resonate with kids, parents, and families and what their impact is on the properties themselves.

Creating additional touchpoints has also been done on a smaller scale than via cinema releases or concert tours too.

Jazwares’ plush line Squishmallows recently landed their own animated series, produced by Moonbug on YouTube. The new series following their toys will see a new episode released weekly. According to our UK data, Squishmallows are most popular with kids aged 8-10, with these fans watching more YouTube (+35%) on a weekly basis than other platforms such as Netflix and linear TV, showing the importance of understanding your target audience and reaching them on the most relevant platform.

What this means for you…

Digital also provides some risks, as with more media fragmentation, the ‘one size fits all’ approach is increasingly not fit for purpose. We believe that brands have to consider geography, personas, age, gender, attitudes, and many other factors about the target audience before planning activity.

Once you have that information (which can vary significantly by region) an ecosystem can be built to engage your key audience, using the most relevant and prevalent touchpoints. Not only do these touchpoints serve as channels for kids to discover new IPs and toys, but they also satisfy the demand for more content and experiences from avid fans.

As part of The Insights Family’s continued development, the company has released a quarterly Toy Report for its clients which includes analysis on kids’ favourite hobbies and activities, favourite toy categories and toys and analysis of their spending and influence. In addition, the report looks forward at future demand (based on IP and toy brands). To download a complimentary copy of the inaugural Toy Report, visit

The Insights Family is the global leader in kids, parents, and family market intelligence, providing real-time data on their attitudes, behaviour, and consumption patterns. Every year the company surveys more than 383,760 kids and 187,200 parents.

About Tessa Clayton

A former Chief Sub of Red magazine, Tessa Clayton is the Digital Editor of and ToyNews. As a freelance journalist she specialised in writing about parenting and family life, and has contributed to a wide variety of publications and websites including Tesco online, Mother & Baby, Livingetc, Junior, Boots Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting and Get in touch at

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