The biggest toy story of 2017 so far is the toy busting story.
The story of toy busters is the latest example of a massive social media marketing campaign to capitalize on an increasingly popular trend.
It’s also a big part of the reason why toy sales are down in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Here’s a look at how it happened.1.
“The trend has become a business,” says Matt Gartland, president of Toy Research and Review, a toy-industry group that tracks trends.
He attributes the trend to an increase in toy-buying habits.
“There’s a growing awareness of toys, especially in children, as a fun, entertaining way to entertain,” he says.
Gartlands group, which includes researchers from consumer research firm Mintel, estimates that the toy-busting story has had a significant impact on toy sales in the past decade.
The trend is so big that companies can no longer ignore it, he says, noting that the average toy price dropped about 25% in 2016.
Gartson says he expects the toy boom to continue.
“It’s a big story that has been building for years,” he tells TIME.
“It has become something that can be used to sell a lot of toys.”2.
The toys are getting bigger, too, says Michael Schoen, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of the forthcoming book, The Big Toys: Toys, Media, and Culture in America.
According to the Toy Research Institute, the toy industry’s retail sales jumped 7.6% last year, and grew 9.7% in 2017.
The increase has been driven by an increase of about 100 million toys worldwide, a 12% increase from 2016.
The industry also saw a 4% increase in sales of children’s toys.
That’s not enough to explain the massive sales, but it’s enough to fuel the boom, says Schoen.3.
A lot of this is happening on social media, too.
According in a study by the Pew Research Center, toy sales jumped 8% in the United States last year.
That suggests social media has played a major role in driving toy sales.
But it also suggests that the social media boom is driven by more traditional marketing, too—like television ads and ads on TV, which are far more successful at reaching kids.
“Social media has allowed companies to engage more with their consumers,” says Gartsons research director, Jonathan Clements.4.
This has been happening since at least the 1980s, when toys were designed with a narrow focus on a specific market, says Gartsons research team member, James R. Johnson.
This is not the case today.
The toy industry has gone on to market more toys than ever, and social media platforms are just as important, as are other types of marketing, he adds.5.
A toy story has a lot to do with the way we see ourselves.
For example, it’s a way to get us to buy things, says Rolf Riemenschmidt, a marketing professor at Brandeis University.
“You need to sell something, and you need to get a lot more people to buy it,” he adds, pointing to a recent study that found that toys are the biggest way kids are learning about their surroundings.
“That’s where the marketing is.”6.
Social media is key.
While social media is certainly not the only way kids learn about the world, it is the most popular way.
“We think it’s because kids are very connected to the internet,” says Riemen.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter also have a huge impact on the toys market.
The popularity of these platforms has made it possible for toy companies to reach a younger audience and sell a much higher volume of toys.
“If you can’t sell toys that kids will buy, it just becomes a problem,” says Johnson.7.
The best marketing comes from toys that are interactive.
Toys are often more complex than other products, so the marketing strategy for toys should be interactive, too says Johnson, noting toy manufacturers have been developing games and other interactive toys to try to appeal to kids who are looking for a way out of their day.
“They are going to use toys that have a physical aspect,” says Kari Osterholm, director of the marketing studies program at the Wharton School of the University in Philadelphia.
“But they are going play with toys that they know can be interactive.”8.
The rise of social media also has the potential to impact the toy business.
“Our research has shown that a lot can be done in the toy space with social media,” says Schön.
He adds that social media can be a key tool for retailers to reach younger customers who might not be ready to buy a toy.
And retailers can be the ones who are going home with a good deal.
Toys sell for $8.99 to $14.99, and some toys are priced as