The rise of the ‘kidult’

Toy and game businesses are getting a boost from nostalgic adults revisiting their youth.

Do you love board game nights, going to Disneyland without kids, and watching teen dramas on The CW? Then you might be a kidult.

The rise of the ‘kidult’

The term dates back to the 1950s when the TV industry used it to describe adults who enjoyed youthful programming, like “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot” (TBH, 100% would watch).

Today’s kidults — and their adult paychecks — are driving demand for nostalgia and play as they revel in the pastimes and culture of their youth.

And they love toys

A 2021 Toy Association Survey found that 58% of adult respondents had purchased a toy for themselves, per Bloomberg. Of those:

  • 65% purchased board games
  • 61% bought craft or building kits
  • 53% threw down on collectibles
  • 52% got into video games

Makes sense. Who among us has never wanted to unwind over some “Dungeons & Dragons” while wearing a DIY bedazzled denim vest?

The trend is also leading brands to release toys geared toward adults, like grown-up-sized Razor scooters, artsy Lego sets, and a $105 Barbie dressed like David Bowie.

  • On TikTok, #AdultMoney videos of adults buying toys for themselves, “and having zero regrets about it,” have nearly 4B views.

But this isn’t entirely a new thing

Adult coloring books boomed in 2015, selling 12m copies compared to 1m the year prior.

Funko Pops launched in 1998 with a bobblehead of the Big Boy mascot. Now it’s worth $1.15B, selling pop culture dolls.

The figures appeal to all ages, but many — e.g., Beetlejuice or Britney Spears — likely resonate most with the adults who grew up with them. Others just aren’t for kids, like, uh, this bloody Hannibal Lecter doll.

Trends also recently found several opportunities based on increased interest in kid-stuff-but-for-adults:

  • Google searches for adult bounce houses are up 87%
  • Goodles — a food company making healthier versions of kids’ meals — recently raised $10m and gets ~80k website visits/mo.

BTW: If this has you feeling young at heart, perhaps what you need is an adult summer camp.

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Topics: Entertainment

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