A new fidget is in town, and this one has staying power.
In 2017, a particular design of spinning device went off patent, and toy developers across the world started to manufacture and market the device as a toy for keeping restless hands busy and keeping its users focused. Whether or not fidget spinners achieved their marketed purpose, the resulting craze left a mark on the toy industry and impacted store owners across the world.
“People drove hours to get to our store because we had such a good selection of spinners,” said Lauren Derse, franchise owner of Learning Express Toys & Gifts in Bedford, MA and Director of Marketing for the corporate support office.
As good as the fidget spinner craze was to toy store operators across the country, a similar fidget craze returned in the late winter months at the beginning of 2021, and it powered the organization through Spring, Summer and into Fall.
“This time around, the fidget products are more functional, more varied and more appealing to a broader audience,” said Derse. “We’re noticing that this trend is lasting much longer than before.”
The new products driving customers to stores now include spinners, stress balls, slime and “Pop It” style products, modeled after the addictive, satisfying feeling of popping bubble wrap over and over again. The popping toys are popular with infants, kids, teens, and adults alike, and stores capitalize on the trend by carrying dozens of colors, styles, and sizes that range from two-bubble poppers to 100 bubble mega poppers.
The trend has also been greatly influenced by marketers on TikTok, a viral social media platform used by more than one billion people. Many of those marketers are Learning Express stores themselves, such as the owner and staff of Learning Express Birmingham, AL, with more than 2 million followers, and the Bedford store, followed by more than 400,000.
“We feel so lucky that customers come from so far away to view our popping toys, and TikTok has been an incredible way to get the word out,” said Derse.
Growing the category
Within the fidget category itself, innovation continues to grow thanks to the efforts of Brinda Choquette, owner of Learning Express Toys & Gifts in Fort Collins, CO since 2017. Ms. Choquette works directly with manufacturers to provide stores across the Learning Express franchise with new, unique popping fidget styles and colors, providing franchisees yet another reason for customers to visit frequently and from far away.
For her continued service and dedication to the Learning Express brand, the corporate support office recently awarded Ms. Choquette its highest honor, the Founder’s Award, an honor no other store owner achieved in such a short time.
The achievement wasn’t lost on Mrs. Derse, and she didn’t see the trend ending anytime soon. “We are deeply thankful to Brinda for all she has done for Learning Express store owners, and we look forward to many more new designs that will power our business through the holiday season.”
For more information on how to take advantage of hot product crazes, please contact our franchise department.