Kids, Tweens, and Teens at the Holidays 2015: Toy and Gift Wish List Results

Posted by Mary McIlrath on Mon, Dec 07, 2015 @ 10:32 AM

Coolest wish list toys!  Holiday wish list alert!  Tech toys kids want! Headlines are hollering this year, whipping parents and gift-givers into a frenzy with the goal of pleasing children during the holiday gift-giving season.  The National Retail Federation predicts that overall holiday spending will top $630 billion this year, up nearly 4% over last year.  This makes sense in households with children, given:

  • Lower gas prices according to AA, thus higher household disposable income

  • The multitude of digital and high-tech-meets tactile toys (think Skylanders, Disney Infinity, or Star Wars/Sphero BB-8 robot) available this year, at higher price points than traditional toys

The holiday gift guides for childern have two consistent themes: 1. Go with anything Star Wars, and/or 2) buy something high-tech (virtual reality, cameras, or tablets).  The browsing and list-making process itself has become tech-saturated.  The Toys ‘R Us catalog includes codes that unlock virtual games and 3D augmented reality views of the products. Kids can create wish lists using Amazon or Target’s Wish List app

All of this sounds very exciting.  Is it, however, what kids are asking for, or what we as adults are projecting onto their desires?  Our 2015 Holiday Wish List survey is in, showing that kids’ desires might be simpler than we think.  Click here to download the Holiday Wish List infographic.

Sure, kids are asking for Star Wars—as long as they’re Lego sets.  Robots and talking dolls?  Not so much.  That’s not to say that they won’t love the more sophisticated toys that they receive this year.  The key to pleasing the recipient is to fit with their favorite play patterns, be it role playing with dolls or action figures, building, or game play. Most of all, they’d really like to pick out their own presents, so consider a gift card.  This commercial for IKEA underscores kids’ desires for simple pleasures at the holidays (spoiler alert: Grab a tissue). 

We also asked kids about their charitable giving over the holiday season.  Most are participating in some way, primarily by donating toys/gifts, food, or clothing.  Just for fun, we asked them whether they’d rather give all of their holiday gifts this year to charity, or forego their electronics and media for a month.  Kids in 1st-4th grades overwhelmingly want to keep the gifts and give up the media, as do the better part of tweens in 5th-8th grades. Teens disagree; the majority would gladly give up the holiday haul in order to hang on to their sources of connectedness, information, and entertainment.

So make those lists and check them twice. But do it knowing that youth pleasures are simple and eternal, even as the toys we build and buy for them grow more complex.

Happy Holidays from YouthBeat!

Tags: youth research, toys, target, wish list, kids tweens teens market research, star wars, holiday, trends, infographic

Three Reason Why Kids Love Thanksgiving

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 @ 10:30 AM

This cohort of kids might be more likely to be foodies than any in the past, and for tween boys in particular, getting to eat their fill can be a dream come true. But for most youth, the food isn’t the real draw on Thanksgiving. Yet, kids still look forward to celebrating. Here are three reasons we think turkey day delights:

  1. Kids love a parade. Sure, not every place has a parade to call their own, and not every household tunes into Macy’s megaThanksgiving-event. But many do, and for those who do, they get a chance to see some of their favorite characters (current and classic) in larger than life fashion. We love Melissa Sweet’s “true story” tale of the parade for little kids.
  2. Family is…fun. While adults might feel ambiguous about a day of family reuniting, kids, tweens and even occasionally teens look forward to it. For many, Thanksgiving is a chance to visit out of town relatives, or to have far-off family come to town. Even if their relatives are local, connecting with cousins, or seeing grandparents is less corny than cool for this cohort.
  3. Finally, giving thanks is good. This generation is oft-described as narcissistic, materialistic and tech-addicted. But we at YouthBeat know that’s not the real story. This group of youth also values giving, and giving back. As kids get older, moments made for authentic vulnerability and public professions of thanks seem to happen less often. But youth need to say they care, and to be reminded that they are loved and valued as much as any cohort before them. Thanksgiving gives them a cover story for a bit of appreciation communication. In schools, kids often get the chance to tell their friends what they are thankful for. And don’t be surprised if a kid you know asks you what you’re thinking of most on Thanksgiving Day.

Tags: wish list, Youth, kids tweens teens, holiday, culture, youth media

What Wishlists Tell Us About Teens

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 @ 11:55 AM

In our final installment of holiday wishlist reviews we tackle the trickiest target of all – teens and just in the nick of time!  When we think about teens, we can’t think of them as a cohesive collective in the same way that we do younger groups of youth. By the teen years, youth are seeking out their own style, their own identity and their own stuff. The brands and products they choose not only say something about who they are, but also who they want to be. And as teens begin to find (ideally) the thing that they’re passionate about – be it music, sports, school, volunteering or something else, they become more and more interested in total immersion. This doesn’t mean that all teens are totally independent, or that peer pressure doesn’t matter; it means being your authentic self across multiple contexts becomes both a personal priority and a brand attribute they value. So the top gift for a teen you know is likely to be something so specific to their interests that it wouldn’t make our list…Teens’ needs are likely to be for something so niche that it wouldn’t make sense for another teen that goes to the same school or is on the same team. Over the past few years, we’ve talked to teens about everything from their love of Cricket to their passion for Chuck Palahniuk novels! But a few items appeal to the masses for the holidays and we discuss a few below…

  1. The first is no surprise – iPads. Teens aren’t the only youth who are asking for tablets this holiday season, but they’re more likely to get them! Check back in with YouthBeat to see how this item fares, or how the teens who request them do, in terms of getting this desired device. Most parents will be grappling with the dilemma of getting their older teens a laptop or a tablet, something that they might justify as a college application or attendance tool versus just a play thing. But still, we bet that a few lucky teens will count the iPad or another tablet as one of their newest treasures.
  2. Have the teen who has it all? Or maybe just enough? Consider empowering teens with one of the many cards available for donating to charity…Check out the options at JustGive.org. While teens might be a bit disappointed if this giving gift is the only one under their tree, they might just appreciate the chance to be taken seriously, and to take their desire to help to the next level.
  3. Speaking of exchanging stuff for something else…Today’s teens, more than any generation before them, crave time with mom and dad. Consider gifting an experience over a thing – like tickets, a night out at a special restaurant, or here’s the twist – give the gift of your own time! It might be a day at the batting cages, or a morning at the spa, but either way, moms and dads can make the most of the holidays by promising some quality time with these older youth.  For the particularly sophisticated teen, we love High 5, which gives your student access to cultural events (that they might just learn to love).

Happy holidays from YouthBeat!

Tags: wish list, Youth, Teens, holiday

Were kids’, tweens’ and teens wishes fulfilled this holiday season?

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Feb 02, 2011 @ 01:41 PM

As our pre-holiday “wishlist” survey showed, high-ticket electronics were the top “asks” for the 2010 season…But we wanted to know how many kids, tweens and teens actually got what they wanted from the list of most frequently requested items. We know that many youth covet iPads and iPhones (are you sensing a trend?), but most had previously settled for desktops and cell phones that stick to the basics. Would this season’s gifts signal a significant shift in youth ownership of cutting edge devices?

In January, we conducted a mini-survey of just over 400 kids and tweens ages 6 to 12, and found that more kids than we expected were lucky enough to receive an iPad (12%). The iPod Touch was most likely to be received among all the choices we gave them, which isn’t surprising as many kids in this age group would have received Kid andTweenTable 1their first iPod this year – and why not go big! Kinect, by Xbox beat Sony’s Move by a longshot. Still, almost half reported missing out on all of the wishlist items that we heard so much about in the pre-holiday weeks. And despite impressive sales of digital readers this season, kids only contributed small numbers to the flock of new users of these paper-replacing devices.

In a poll of 164 teens ages 14 to 17, teens were actually less likely to receive these items for the holidays than their younger counterparts with 57% having received none of the items we listed.  Perhaps this is because they were more likely to have some of these higher-priced technologies already. But like younger youth, they were most likely to get an iPod Touch. They were, however more likely to get their hands on an iPhone…Teen Table

While it may have seemed that EVERYBODY got these gadgets over the holidays, and even moreso if you’re a kid who did not the truth is that these technologies continue to be enjoyed by a minority of youth. We’ll see how the numbers net out when we look at information from a broader sample of kids and teens, but for now it looks like just a few more kids, tweens and teens added to the slowly growing numbers of users of these technologies.

Tags: kids, wish list, Teens, shopping, holiday, tweens