After the record-setting success of Furby, the robotic pet that communicated and ate with the help of an app, sales of connected toys in Europe have slumped, down 18% year-on-year in 2015.
Obviously, a phenomenal success like Furby, which topped European toy markets in 2013 and 2014, sets up difficult year-on-year comparisons. But Furby was also successful in the U.S. and Canada, and in those markets, connected toys were up 82% in 2015.
So why isn’t Europe buying connected toys?
Price is possibly part of the answer as connected toys tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, high-end toys (€100 or higher) are a growth segment, so price doesn’t entirely explain it.
Another reason may be that connected toys are not widely stocked at mainstream toy stores in Europe. This might be linked to retailers being cautious in reaction to concerns from some consumer groups about data privacy and from we parents worried about too much screen-time for our kids. However, since internet sales of toys continue to soar in Europe, determined buyers can find what they want online. Perhaps, there simply hasn’t been an overarching popular concept post-Furby, and European consumers haven’t been wowed by a connected toy since.
But they will be; and most likely soon.
Whether we like it or not, toy trends often spread from the U.S. to Europe, and in the U.S., the connected toy segment is booming, thanks in part to toys such as Meccanoids from Spin Master, Sphero’s BB8, and Anki Overdrive. And in looking at the aisles of the New York toy fair in February, there are many more to come.
In other words, the important question isn’t if there will be other connected hits in Europe, but rather what they will be, when they will erupt, and – of course – which retailers will be smart enough to stock them first.