SECTOR FOCUS: The boys market

As part of our focus on the boys market, BrandTrends' Philippe Guinaudeau and NPD analyse the market stats.
Publish date:

With demographics so finely-tuned and marketing messages laser-guided onto them, brand awareness among any given group is usually high for certain key brands. But what are the brands that boys aged 10-14 recognise most? Philippe Guinaudeau offers some insight from his BrandTrends UK research.

What brand comes to mind first for British boys 10-14 years old when asked about entertainment brands? Sony? Microsoft? Nintendo? None of these actually.

Surprisingly, and by an ample margin, Disney is the most commonly mentioned entertainment brand for this specific demographic group. (See chart). Furthermore, the brand also attracts the most “first mentions”, indicating that it is truly the most defining entertainment brand for boys 10 to 14 years old.

Following, Harry Potter takes second spot for unaided awareness, as well as for top-of-mind (first mentions). The brand ties with video-game brands Xbox and Nintendo; but the first mentions of Harry Potter make a real difference to the perception of the brand.

The other entertainment brands boys would spontaneously name are video-game brands: Xbox, Nintendo etc. They even name specific games, such as Call of Duty, Need for Speed or even EA Games.

However, just because boys spontaneously name Disney or Harry Potter as an entertainment brand does not necessarily mean they prefer these brands or associate any positive attitude to them. And so, this would not necessarily mean Disney or Harry Potter would benefit in selling more merchandise with their name on it, amongst this demographic group.

As a matter of fact, their popularity would rank at a lower level when you consider these brands in their competitive environment, e.g. in conjunction with the video-game brands kids also spontaneously named.

The Simpsons, Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation top the popularity chart; while Nintendo Wii then Microsoft Xbox lead in purchase interest. Harry Potter, in fifth place scored brand in this chart, shows a significant gap vs. the first group, despite its large spontaneous recognition as an entertainment brand.

Last point: The Simpsons, as the brand is significantly above the line, may have less merchandise potential than its popularity would indicate. And the real challenge for Fox is to adapt to commercial application. But popularity is there, and consumer demand strong for the brand.

nKidz Global provides analysed data on the Kid markets around the world.

NPD Analysis

IN 2010, 53 per cent of all toys purchased in the UK were for boys, accounting for £1.53 billion (source: NPD Consumer Panel) – a rise of six per cent. This growth was driven by the six to 11 year-old age group, where spending increased significantly. However, the largest age group for boys was two to three year olds, accounting for 20 per cent of total spend on boys.

Outside of infant and pre-school toys, building sets was the largest super category for boys in 2010, having grown by 29 per cent since 2009. This was heavily driven by the continued growth of Lego with Lego City, Star Wars and Atlantis popular properties, in addition to the launch of Lego Hero Factory and Mega Brand’s Halo Wars ranges.

Interestingly, the next largest area is outdoor and sports toys, where Nerf had extraordinary growth in the last year. The good summer in 2010 also helped sales of scooters, sports games and ride-ons.

Both vehicles and action figures, traditionally strong areas for boys toys, saw value decline in the last year as purchasing for boys changed. Despite the high sales of Toy Story, action figures struggled to grow last year, perhaps due to there being another strong toy licence at the cinema in 2010. However, Dr Who finished the year in growth as did Bakugan – both of which had new TV series last year.

Traditionally the boys market is much more dynamic than girls with latest licences and brands playing a strong role in consumer purchasing habits for the sector.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the top licence for boys was Toy Story, although both Star Wars and Ben 10 still top sellers.

Hot Wheels and Cars remained top selling properties within vehicles for 2010.

2011 should see a resurgence in licensed blockbuster films aimed at boys with the release of Cars 2 and the third Transformers movie, in addition to a number of comic book adaptations (Captain America and Thor) and a fourth outing for the Pirates of the Caribbean.

These releases should reinvigorate all boys’ areas, with action figures, vehicles and building sets all likely to expand this year.


5_Indie toy store.jpg

Independent retail sector focus

Only a year ago the independent retail sector was in disarray following the closure of Youngsters. For many, the future looked bleak. Fast forward 12 months, however, and things look a lot more positive. Ronnie Dungan talked to retailers and suppliers to find out the current state of play?



TCGs and stickers form a fast-moving, trend-driven sector. Following the recent boost the World Cup provided to the market, we caught up with some key players to find out more.

5_Mattel Monster High 300.jpg


Despite being one of the most traditional parts of the girls toy market, doll sales remain strong, with many new innovations, interactive features and licensing deals in the sector. We find out what?s new.


SECTOR GUIDE: Pre-school

In our second focus on the pre-school sector in 2011, manufacturers are now looking ahead to big new launches and extensions of existing ranges for next year. ToyNews highlights what?s on offer?

Featured Jobs