The Latest Play In Toys

The toy industry is waking up to a potential niche market that is a gold mine – toys for the golden ages.

Toy companies, from the largest to the smallest, recognize the potential of games to help older people socialize and boost their cognitive abilities.

Dubbed “eldertainment,” the trend is being driven in part by social media posts showcasing games designed to connect grandparents and grandchildren, or to help those with dementia and assisted living residents to get involved.

HasbroHAS recently announced a partnership with Ageless Innovation, one of the pioneers in the older adult space, to bring new versions of Hasbro’s classic board games Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and The Game of Life to make them more senior-friendly and encourage intergenerational play .

Educational Insights, a 61-year-old company that specializes in “learning through play” toys for preschoolers, noticed about a year ago that it was seeing thousands of reviews on AmazonAMZN for one of its memory games, Brain Bolt, citing its benefits were advertised for elderly relatives.

Viral Brain Challenge

Another Educational Insights game, Kanoodle Puzzle, has become a viral brain challenge on TikTok with over 1 billion TikTok views since 2022. This led to Educational Insights recently becoming the first toy brand to open a store on TikTok.

With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day and the elderly outnumbering children, toy manufacturers and toy retailers must position themselves to serve the entire family, from babies to seniors, says James Zahn, Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a leading toy industry publication, said in an interview.

“There was this market that was forever right in front of the industry that didn’t get noticed — it was kind of hidden — and that was the older audience,” Zahn said.

The large numbers of baby boomers in the 1950s and 1960s changed the toy industry and cemented the success of many classic toys. “Now they’re grandparents and they’re looking for ways to connect with the new generations in their family,” Zahn said.

“Eldertainment is a natural extension of the toy industry’s drive to make play more inclusive,” said Jennifer Lynch, content developer and toy trends specialist at industry group The Toy Association, in an interview. According to Lynch, there is a new industry focus on the importance of play for all ages and “using play as a tool to support our mental and physical well-being at any age,” Lynch said.

Encouraging cross-generational play is one of the goals of the partnership between Ageless Innovation and Hasbro, announced in May. Ageless Innovation, licensed to adapt classic Hasbro games for older adults, is preparing to release The Game of Life: Generations and Trivial Pursuit Generations. In both customized games, players can select the generation they want to play, from the greatest generation to Generation Z, with references to their generation throughout gameplay.

Ageless Innovation was formed in 2015 as a Hasbro division tasked with finding new markets and channels for Hasbro properties. It was spun off into a separate company in 2018. The result was the Joy For All Companion Pets line of robotic toy dogs, cats and birds that are often used with elderly dementia patients. In October, the company announced the “adoption” of a Joy For All pet toy by 500,000 people.

Ted Fischer, co-founder and CEO of Ageless Innovation, who was part of the original Ageless Innovation team at Hasbro, said in an interview that toy makers didn’t think much about the older adult market in 2015. That’s changed dramatically, and not just in the toy category, he said.

“The number of entrepreneurs and innovators trying to create great products and services for older adults and their families is 10 times what it was eight years ago,” Fischer said.

Investor interest in the aging market

In 2015, an aging conference Fischer attended only attracted a private equity group with a fund specifically targeting older people, he said.

This month, at the same conference, there were 20 to 30 such investment groups “that were really focused on that area,” he said.

Working with Hasbro, Ageless Innovation transformed Scrabble into a set that includes three senior-friendly ways to play the word game: a classic Scrabble set with redesigned tiles that are easier to understand and see; Scrabble Pass, a quick-play version of the game; and Scrabble bingo, in which a bag of tiles is passed from player to player to see who can say a word first.

The new Scrabble games, along with the new versions of The Game of Life and Trivial Pursuit, are intended to “give people a range of ways to play them using a range of cognitive abilities,” Fischer said.

In researching the needs of older adults, “we clearly heard two things: that older adults wanted more play in their lives, and that there’s a great need for more interactive society because there’s an incredible epidemic of loneliness and isolation,” he said.

Ageless Innovation plans to release three to five new versions of Hasbro games per year, Fischer said. The first games of the collaboration – the adaptations Scrabble, The Game of Life and Trivial Pursuit – are expected to be available in August.

In September, to coincide with National Grandparents Day, Ageless Innovation will promote a campaign to encourage people to play with the older adults in their lives, with nationwide events in partnership with long-term care providers and government agencies.

Popularity of mind games

Educational Insights, whose Brain Bolt, Kanoodle, and other toys resonate with older adults, has used the phrase “for ages 7 to 107” on its packaging for years, but has only recently realized the popularity of its products with older adults and theirs supervisors.

“The whole 7-107 idea started out as a silly numbers game, but now it’s really serious,” Lee Parkhurst, senior marketing manager at Educational Insights, said in an interview. “We have octogenarians who come to us for our games.”

Pankhurst said Educational Insights saw reviews and social media comments from people who said they bought Brain Bolt or Kanoodle for their kids and are now playing with them themselves or giving them to grandparents.

“Our client — generally the mother — looks to us not only for how to support her children, but for how she can support her parents and the aging community,” said Parkhurst.

Educational Insights is working on developing new games for older adults and is looking for partnerships in elderly care, he said. The company is also exploring how to reposition some of its existing best-selling and award-winning children’s toys towards older adults.

Untapped “Wild West” market

The Toy Association’s Lynch said the association has not yet assessed the potential size of the parenttainment market, but it is expected to be significant. The NPD Group (now Circana) reported last year that toys bought or bought for children (people 12 and older) accounted for a quarter of all toy sales in the US.

“Now that we have some players who are succeeding in this area, you can expect others to follow suit,” said Zahn of the Toy Book. He said he expects new offerings in this category to appear at the upcoming toy fair in the fall.

“Basically, this is just an untapped Wild West market that no one knows how much money is out there to conquer,” he said.

follow me Twitter or LinkedIn.


Read  Dancing On Ice's Carley Stenson latest axed from show moments after shoulder injury

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button