“23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100.” James Gallagher, BBC News
One topic I feel the need to visit regularly is the global decline in childbirth. Consider this headline from BBC News: “Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born.”
What caught my eye was this statement: “The number of under-fives will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100.” That means there are going to be 40% fewer children to sell to by the end of the century.
Lest you think that this is a problem for toy people of the future, please note that the population slide is occurring right now, and as a result there are going to be fewer children every year until we reach 2100.
What is the reason for this decline in the birthrate? The biggest reason is access to contraception, which is now nearly worldwide. As a result, women have a choice in how many children they want to have. They also have a choice in whether they wish to have children at all.
The decline in childbirths is good for the world. Fewer people means less wear and tear on the planet as well as on our ability to feed everyone. It’s is not, however, good for any industry that is child dependent.
What can we do?
- Raise a bigger tent. Focus our product development and marketing on adults who want to play, not as an ancillary effort but, as a core target.
- Parents and grandparents are not the only ones who buy toys for children. Listen to the Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin, and market to aunts (and uncles too) who don’t have children, but love their nieces and nephews.
- Despite the unfortunate anti-immigrant tone of the current government, lobby hard for increased immigration. Not only do immigrants make America a better and stronger place, but we in the toy industry will benefit from the additional consumers.
- Keep an eye on southern Africa, the one place in the world destined to grow rather than shrink its population . Toy companies should be opening markets there now. The sales may not come right away, but developing brand equity will pay off later.
Above all, we as an industry cannot ignore the continuing decline in births. Let’s take action now.