Kids gear up for a sporty summer

Peter Robinson

Every month we work with leading Toy Industry publication, Toy News, to find out kids are up to: what are they playing with now and what will they want in the future. This month, with Euro 2012 and London 2012 on the horizon we looked at the market for summer toys and outside play.

To start with we asked 500 children aged six to 12 if they were expecting new sporting goods, sports kit, normal clothing, bags, toys and flags this summer, and whether they would rather these items were branded with this summer’s biggest events. Perhaps benefiting from being hosted on home soil, London 2012 proved more popular than Euro 2012 across all the aforementioned product categories, aside from sports equipment, which is surprising considering the diversity of sport promoted at the Olympics. While it’s expected that sports branding will help to sell sporting products, including bags and flags, more encouraging is the boost received by toys. 42 per cent of children said they would prefer a toy if it carried London 2012 branding, and 34 per cent said they would show preference to a toy if it carried the Euro 2012 logo. Of course, this doesn’t mean that every toy should be branded, but where it’s suitable there will be a clear advantage. All this enthusiasm for sport is carried through to kids playing outside. 99 per cent say they are expecting to play outside this summer either loads (70 per cent) or sometimes (29 per cent). One per cent is not expecting to play outside at all. Those worried by children’s activity levels will be glad to know that the majority (81 per cent) expect to be playing ball games or riding their bike (80 per cent) during the summer holidays.

Bikes are best!

Bikes prove to be the most popular transport for kids, beating scooters, which got 56 per cent of the vote, roller skates, favoured by 23 per cent of children, and 90s favourite – the skateboard – which received just 22 per cent. Bikes have the advantage of experiencing little fluctuation across the ages, whereas scooters and roller skates both taper off as children get older. Roller skates are more popular with girls and skateboards are largely a boys’ toy, with 31 per cent of boys expecting to play on their skateboard as opposed to only 12 per cent of girls. Kids’ bike sales should receive a boost this summer, with a quarter of children expecting to get a new bike, as opposed to only 15 per cent expecting a new scooter. Unfortunately, the hosepipe ban will come as bad news to many children as Dubit’s research shows that 53 per cent are expecting to be playing in a pool or paddling pool. Although most popular with six to eight year olds, playing in the pool is still a summer pastime with almost half of 11-12 year olds.

Kids graduate from the garden to the park

The most likely place children will play outside is in their garden, with 51 per cent expecting to play in it a lot and 38 per cent sometimes. Children are also expecting to spend a lot of time in their friends’ gardens. The park is popular, with 58 per cent expecting to play there occasionally. As children get older they graduate from the garden to the park, aided, perhaps, by greater levels of independence. Most children (59 per cent) don’t expect to play in the street much, or even at all. However, all of this outside time doesn’t mean that children are ditching video games as a result, as 39 per cent of them expect to be outside playing games on portable consoles or mobile phones outside the house. It is clear that children are keen to get out of the house and get involved in the summer’s biggest sporting events, presenting the toy industry with a wealth of opportunities throughout the summer.

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