What Kids Want From Their Toys

With toy-buying season nearly upon us, marketers will be wondering what sorts of things appeal most to kids. Harris Interactive polling, fielded in July, gives some clues.

When 8-12-year-olds were asked to cite the traits they regard as extremely or very important in a toy, “It’s fun” won the most mentions from boys (93 percent) and girls (88 percent). Also high on the list were “Makes me use my imagination” (66 percent of boys, 69 percent of girls) and “It’s challenging” (61 percent of boys, 51 percent of girls). Fewer cited “It allows me to play with others” (43 percent of boys, 48 percent of girls) or “It teaches me something” (34 percent of boys, 40 percent of girls).

In these broad preferences, the boys and girls differ less than one might expect. But some of the poll’s more specific questions found wider gender gaps. For instance, boys were significantly more likely than girls (84 percent vs. 69 percent) to say, “Toys that involve technology, like video and computer games and handheld games or toys, are more fun than other toys.” Asked to cite the one thing they like most about playing with their favorite toy, boys — true to form — were almost twice as likely as girls (20 percent vs. 11 percent) to pick “playing to win.”

The poll’s girls were more likely than the boys (16 percent vs. 9 percent) to pick “pretending” as the activity they like most when playing with their favorite toy.