Talk of the Playground: Construction Toys - ToyNews

Talk of the Playground: Construction Toys

Dubit takes a look at the rise of the building sets category and asks kids for their views...
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Data from youth research agency Dubit shows that a huge 97 per cent of children have played with construction toys. 

The study, conducted exclusively for ToyNews, shows that despite digital entertainment, kids still love to build with plastic bricks.

Of the 500 children (aged between six and 12) surveyed, 92 per cent have played with Lego, while Mega Bloks and Duplo came second and third, having been played with by 58 and 54 per cent of kids respectively.

Lego is also at the top of the pile when it comes to construction toys children have played with in the past year. 79 per cent of kids have played with the classic Danish blocks, compared to 24 per cent who have played with K’Nex and 23 per cent who have played with Mega Bloks.

All the construction toys featured suffered from a drop off as the children reach their tweens (yes, even Lego). More technical brands like K’Nex, Meccano and Technic peak with nine and ten year-old kids, as does Geomag. Of those four brands, K’Nex is leading the field with 30 per cent of nine to ten year olds having played with them in the past year.

Construction toys are favoured slightly by boys, as 17 per cent of girls have not played with such toys in the past year, compared to only nine per cent of boys. The greatest gender divides tend to occur with the technical construction sets.

PLAYING WITH OTHERS

When asked about how they play with their construction toys, the children we surveyed told us they love to build with others. So it was interesting to see who children said they usually played with, and which sets kids are mostly likely to play with on their own.

For parental co-play Meccano came out top, with 18 per cent of children usually playing with it alongside their parents. In second place was another of the technical construction toys, Technic, with 12 per cent.

The blocks most often played with between siblings were those aimed at the younger end of the market. Of those children who have played with Mega Bloks or Duplo in the past year, a respective 35 and 33 per cent played with their siblings. When it came to playing with friends, there was a lot of competition from Polydon (31 per cent), Character Building (22 per cent), Geomag and Technic (both 21 per cent).

Surprisingly, Lego came out as the least sociable; with 50 per cent of children that have played with Lego in the past year (79 per cent) usually playing by themselves.

HOW KIDS SEE IT

To get a better understanding of the market, Dubit asked the children to rate the nine brands across four factors: complicated, simple, educational and fun.

The results prove that Lego really is the master of its own domain, being considered the most fun and straddling the line between complicated and simple. For such a diverse and well-known brand, it is little surprise. On the other side, kids see the technical market as a busy area, featuring Technic, Meccano and Polydron. While Technic and Meccano are seen as very similar brands, Polydron is regarded as the most educational of the three.

Character Building, Geomag and K’Nex all occupy space in the centre of the chart, suggesting children (and perhaps their parents) find them difficult to define, or that they simply feel that they manage to tick all of the boxes.

The fun and simple area of the chart belongs to brands aimed at the younger end of the spectrum: Duplo and Mega Bloks. And Duplo is regarded as the simpler of the two by a fraction.

The obvious gap in the market is construction sets that are designed to be both simple and educational. 

Is it possible to be both, or could one of the existing brands benefit from moving into this sector?

WHICH CONSTRUCTION TOYS DO KIDS PLAY WITH? (click to expand)


WHO DO KIDS PLAY WITH WHILE USING CONSTRUCTION TOYS? (click to expand)


IS THE BRAND COMPLICATED, FUN, EDUCATIONAL OR SIMPLE? (click to expand)


WHAT THE KIDS SAY

“I like to use my own imagination to build and I also like to make the models on the box or leaflet that comes with them; we can buy as many as we like to build even bigger things.”
Boy, ten years old

“You can make things, pretty things. I love making things.”
Girl, six years old

“It’s not too hard and it’s fun to play with – you can change it into different things with the different Lego bits. You can put it on other stuff and pretend to fly it.”
Boy, seven years old

“I like building the things with the instructions and they are pink.”
Girl, seven years old

“I have a Lego Friends house and loads of other sets and you can play with them all together and make up stories and stuff.”
Girl, eight years old

“I like to be able to make up my own creatures and super heroes; it’s good to use my imagination. I can build loads of different things.”
Boy, nine years old

“I love to build them all from new and follow the instructions, but I also love free play with them to make anything I want. I love Lego, it’s easy to take places as well. I don’t think you are ever too old for Lego – my mum loves it too.”
Girl, 11 years old

“I love the challenge of building complicated Lego structures with my family and I enjoy watching my brother play with it after I have built it for him. The construction is definitely my favourite part.”
Girl, 12 years old

“I like building things and my dad was an engineer and he helps me and tells me all about how it works.”
Boy, 11 years old

“You can make things like houses which your toys can play in, and things like Harry Potter, which I just had for my birthday.”
Girl, seven years old

“I like playing with them because you can make lots of things and there is no limit to what you can do. I also like the new Lego Friends range they have just brought out for girls.”
Girl, 11 years old

“They are entertaining and help you to be creative.”
Boy, 11 years old

Dubit is a specialist youth research agency and digital development studio. By utilising a deep understanding of young people’s motivations and behaviours, Dubit works with brand owners worldwide to create digital experiences that children love. 

Phone: 0113 394 7920
Email: research@dubitlimited.com

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