Toy industry crisis as fewer babies are born in developed world

Consumer demand


ToysSlowly but surely, companies seem to be learning the hard way that demographics, not central bankers, drive demand.  The blog is surprised this simple insight is still not widely understood.  But the example of the global toy market highlights the paradigm shift underway:

  • In 1950, there were 83m children aged between 0 – 4 years in the wealthy developed regions of the world
  • They were 10% of the total population, according to the UN Population Division.
  • But their numbers then peaked at 89m in 1960, as fertility rates began to decline
  • Today there are only 70m in this age range, and they are just 6% of the population

Unsurprisingly, the world’s toymakers are now struggling as a result.  Those children who are alive are certainly still playing with toys – many play with electronic games as well as traditional toys.

But demographics drive demand.  So the market is already much smaller, and is continuing to decline.  Thus profits at former high-flying giant ‘Toys-R-Us have halved since 2009, whilst Mattel is suffering due to lower sales of Barbie dolls.

This downturn also, of course, has a global impact.  China manufactures 70% of the world’s toys, and so its growth is being hit by Barbie’s decline.

And the situation seems likely to get worse rather than better.  Not only are fertility rates now falling fast in the poorer regions of the world, but many women in the developed world have abandoned the idea of having children at all.

Thus the Wall Street Journal reports that one in four Italian women now end their child-bearing years without having had any children.  So do one in seven American women, and one in ten French women.

Its hard to sell toys to children who haven’t been born.

Tomorrow, the blog will look at the implications of the other major paradigm shift – the remarkable number of people aged 55+ who are now still alive.


US oil inventories hit record high as supply increases


Imagine that 5 years ago, you had been asked by your Board to forecast future oi...

Learn more

Pension promises unaffordable due to demographic change


As promised yesterday, the blog looks today at the impact of today’s rapid...

Learn more
More posts
Smartphone sales continue their decline, whilst $25 smart feature phones open up new markets

Global smartphone sales have now been falling for 8 consecutive quarters, since Q3 2017. They are no...

Smartphone market decline begins to impact global stock markets

The bad news continues for the world’s smartphone manufacturers and their suppliers.  And Pre...

There’s a great future for the European plastics industry in recycled plastic

Europe’s plastics industry is under major threat from the growing legislative and consumer bac...

$60bn opportunity opens up for plastics industry as need to eliminate single-use packaging grows

150 businesses representing over 20% of the global plastic packaging market have now agreed to start...

IKEA heads into the circular world with furniture subscription trial

“Once upon a time, Granny and Grandad used to go to a large shop on the motorway to buy their ...

Fed’s magic money tree hopes to overcome smartphone sales downturn and global recession risk

Last November, I wrote one of my “most-read posts”, titled Global smartphone recession ...

Global smartphone recession confirms consumer downturn

Q3 smartphone sales data show the global market in recession, as Strategy Analytics confirmed: “Th...

Trump’s auto trade war adds to US demographic and debt headwinds

President Trump’s auto trade tariffs are bad news for the US and global auto industry, as the ...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more