The European Toy Market 2020 and Digital Trends 2021

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Yann Fresnel, a top French executive in the Toy & Baby industry, HAS weeks, provided us with articles about his home toy market in France and the Spanish and German markets.  

In this article, Yann provides us with a summary of total European toy market performance in 2020 and a look at digital trends in toys for 2021. Yann bases his observations on data from NPD,  his observations and opinions.

Yann has 26 years of experience selling Toy & Baby products to retailers and e-retailers in all of Europe. He has worked for companies like Berchet (Smoby), Newell brands, BERG Toys, and Smartrike. He is available for a General Manager or Country Manager France/Europe (strong sales background) position.  You can learn more about Yann on LinkedIn or by calling him at +33 6 48 94 02 05, or emailing him



Here are some basic facts about the European toy industry:

The European toy industry employs 50,000 workers.

99% of European toy companies are small and mid-size enterprises and empoly two thirds of toy industry workers.

There are 80 Million children between zero and fourteen years old.

European toy Market is around 20 Billion Euros in value (a small increase in last two years).

The top 5 principal markets are:

1.United Kingdom (growing market, +5% in 2020) with around 3,8 Billion Euros in value.

2.GERMANY (growing market, +9% S1 2020) with around 3,6 Billion Euros in value.

3.FRANCE (declining a bit -2% in 2020) with around 3,3 Billion Euros in value.

4.ITALY (declining market, -6% in 2020) with around 1,2 Billion Euros in value.

5.SPAIN (declining market, -7% in 2020 from last NPD update, I think a bit more) with around 930 Million Euros.

The European toy market aggressively moved online in all countries with a substantial increase in all top five countries. The more you go North in Europe (UK, Germany, Holland, Nordic countries), the stronger the online market for toys. These markets, already strong, increased online revenues by 50%.

The more you go south in Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Portugal), the weaker the online market. Never-the-less, these markets saw an 30-35% increase in e-commerce sales..

What is becoming clear is that markets are moving towards an omnichannel approach with the “consumer” as the king of choice. The customer is searching online, but wants to buy the way he wants (delivery to home or a shop, click & collect, drive to the store, ship from the store, etc.) As a result, suppliers are using more channels to cover consumer demands with 365 days and 24/7 service.

Unit volume in Europe declined by 1% in 2020 but, the average price grew. People have clearly moved to more expensive items with more play value and away from inexpensive impulse buying.

These categories boomed in 2020:

Outdoor Toys

The weather was excellent all spring, and people were outside playing too. 

Playground equipment (houses, slides, trampolines..) and sports games did well.

Puzzles and Games 

It did exceptionally well in all markets with two digits growth. Families spent time playing together and of all ages. We saw a strong increase in “Kidult” games, which grew in 2020 by 27% in the U.K.


LEGO mainly was up with toys for all ages too.


Good demand in education and learning at home with positive stories.

Licenses sales were not booming (theatre closed, movies canceled or postponed).

As Disney + channel is arriving now, it should have a substantial impact in the next years.

You can identify new trends driven by new generations with more concern for their environment 

(eco-responsible, local production for employment growth, recyclable plastic, reused toys, charity donation…)


In 2020, Europe added 150 Million new e-shoppers. They were of all ages. This had a substantial impact on competition. Younger users were particularly attracted to social media and video content providers like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. 

In 2021, brands will drive omnichannel sales by using robust customer data. It will improve the user experience, particularly on mobile devices.

As the behavior to shop continues to move online, brands will invest in virtual experiences and augmented reality.

Influencers will have a crucial role doing live video streaming on platforms like Alibaba.

To drive online/offline sales, digital marketing teams will focus on their community, customer service, and hyper-personalization. Brands will have to find a consolidated supply chain to fulfill all kinds of orders.

The pandemic is still with us and a lack of vaccines means 2021 may turn out to be another year of quarantining and shopping restrictions. If that happens, the toy market will be impacted, but I am confident it will continue to be as resilient as it was in 2020.

Let’s hope that in 2021 we can at least help create “jappy families” playing together and having fun!

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