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Why toy renting is set to take off in 2021

Broader consumer shifts to renting, sustainability and tighter finances could lead parents to stop buying playthings, according to The Insights People.
January 18, 2021

Consumers are increasingly turning to toy rentals as a way of saving money and refreshing their playtime with new products more often, according to a report from The Insights People.

There are a few behavioral shifts driving this trend. For one, rentals in general are becoming more prevalent among adults; 84% in the 45-and-older bracket say renting a home is more important than owning one, according to the research firm.

During the holidays, UK retailer Westfield London launched a Christmas rental pop-up store to meet a growing demand from millennials who wanted to rent festive products instead of buying them. A recent study by Unibail-Rodomco-Westfield found that 40% of UK millennials wanted to rent Christmas trees, as well as board games (30%) and Christmas jumpers (28%).

The Insights People predicts this outlook will trickle down to other product categories, including toys.

Taking the subscription box business model (itself a popular source of new toys for families during the pandemic) a step further, toy rental services also allow for more cost-effective variety, introducing families to new-to-them playthings at reduced fees that they can then choose to return or pay to keep.

In the UK, this model is just starting to take off. A player called Whirli lets families pick the toys they want delivered, play with them for several months, and then swapping them in for something else, or pay a reduced fee to buy them. Big brands and newly released toys are available through the service, including Fisher-Price’s Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth, VTech’s 2-in-1 Sports Centre and Playmobil’s 1 2 3 Zoo with Penguin Enclosure. In December, Whirli raised US$5.4 million in a seed funding round.

Renting isn’t just big in Europe, either. The market is also growing in China, where parents are seeking cost-effective ways of keeping constantly evolving kids entertained, according to Shanghai Daily.

The toy rental industry can also help families be more environmentally sustainable. From toys to strollers, an increasing number of consumers will look to rent things that kids tend to grow out of quickly, instead of throwing these purchased items away once they’ve been outgrown.

Finally, there’s the financial reality faced by parents who may have lost jobs or have had their hours reduced as a result of the pandemic. Renting toys and other kids products can let families provide their children with what they want, without having to sacrifice the essentials.

The Insights People’s “Parents Insights Future Forecast 2021″ report, which surveyed 10,500 UK parents from January 2019 to November 2020, offers a taste of what’s to come as the research firm expands into tracking the parent consumer demo more regularly. Going forward, it plans on surveying 130,000 parents of kids ages one to 16 across 13 countries, including the US, Canada, France and the UK.

Photo courtesy of Sandy Millar on Unsplash.

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at



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