Chinese market reveals old, new preferences in children’s toys

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TOY traders looking to penetrate the mainland Chinese market need to understand which sorts of toys are now gaining popularity among children and their parents.

In a new survey, HKTDC Research found that traditional toys remain the most preferred toys overall in China. However other kinds of toys are also catching attention, propelled mainly by an emphasis on building children’s abilities and intelligence, such as the rise of “STEM” toys and new tech toys.

A number of STEM toys have been launched in recent years as China vigorously promotes STEM education, an educational approach that integrates the different subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

STEM toys require the child to assemble the parts or even do the programming themselves, which parents think can enhance the child’s ability. A physics toy kit with different sets of components is also looked on favorably, allowing the child to explore while following the instructions.

Also gaining ground are new-tech toys as manufacturers begin to incorporate new technologies into toys. The most popular are AI smart toys and virtual reality or VR toys.

Mainland parents are happy to spend on new-tech toys because these toys integrate learning and recreation and can enhance children’s knowledge, said the HKTDC report.

At the same time, while demand for electronic toys is waning, spin-offs of electronic games such as physical toys are still popular and reportedly have a huge potential in the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, among traditional toys, toy blocks are the most played with and regarded by many parents as a “must-have” toy. This is followed by dolls and jigsaw puzzles.

Boys of all ages display a marked preference for electronic/electric toys, said the report.

Younger children also tend to like musical instrument toys, dolls, and jigsaw puzzles while older ones prefer model toys, toy blocks, science experiment toy kits and so on.

As they grow older, boys show a stronger preference for toys which allow for hands-on exploration, favoring science experiment toy kits and various electronic games. Newtech toys have a greater appeal to older boys, followed by electronic/electric toys.

Dolls are the most popular toy for little girls. The survey indicated that girls across all age groups like make-believe toys, traditional inspirational toys, and do-it-yourself or DIY toys. New-tech toys that feature various functions such as artificial intelligence (AI) are also attractive, regarded as novelties that make good company for children.   

Meanwhile, the popularity of mobile games is on the wane following the mainland government’s repeated advice to parents against over exposing their children to electronic games.

Image credits: Akapelux |


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