We play in public. We play in private. We play online, offline and waiting in line. We play in stadiums. We play at home. We play on alien worlds. We work to play. You play at work and that’s OK. We play to win. We pay for skins. We play to learn. We pay to watch. We play with your competition. We play on dates. We date to find playmates. We play on good teams. We play with bad sports. We play to keep fit. We cosplay. We play new games and ancient sports. We play till the end. And maybe after!
Play is a serious matter.
Play is a deeply held human desire. Changing behaviors, new tools, and emerging expectations related to having a good time impact all of you. Whether you work for Asia’s busiest airport, design apparel for Adidas, or run your own small business: play should be on your radar.
Here we will look at 25 global innovations that are delighting consumers today. Your mission: use them to inspire your own efforts to delight the customer of tomorrow!
🚨 Heads up: We built this report as a FREE slide deck (complete with charts, additional insights and a lot of adorable animations) to use with your team. So, before you scroll any further, if you are on desktop we highly recommend viewing that version. You deserve it. For you early adopters reading on mobile (!), this simplified text version is for you. 🚨
Free slide deck! Ungated, animated & beautiful to share with your team.
6 reasons play is a major business opportunity.
This isn’t a spectator sport. Serious fortunes will be made by those who focus on play. Here are some CFO-pleasing stats for you:
1. Spending on play is growing.
Pick your market. Global consumer spend on gaming will grow to $180 billion by 2021, an annual growth rate of 10% from 2017 and 2021. (Newzoo, April 2018). Global revenue in the Sports & Outdoor segment is expected to show an annual growth rate of 10% from 2018 to 2022. (Statista, June 2018). Toy sales in Asia have grown by 21% in the last five years. The global toy market is forecasted to reach $99 billion in 2022 (NPD, August 2018).
2. Play can break through to saturated audiences.
You don’t need to be Reed Hastings to know competition for consumer attention is higher than ever before. American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media (Nielsen, July 2018). Brands that offer rich, playful experiences are more likely to engage with users than those hammering one-way comms.
3. In an aging world, play isn’t just for kids.
Society’s widespread agreement on the importance of play in childhood development is recent history. But far more recently, another play-related consensus is emerging. With a global aging population, play (from Super Mario to Mahjong) and social connections will play an urgent role in reducing loneliness, depression and potentially dementia for millions of older consumers.
4. In anxious markets, consumers crave escapism.
Play is a powerful form of escapism. A recent survey found an average of 56% of people in 28 nations feel their country is on the wrong track (Ipsos, July 2018). When a majority of your market is worried about polarized politics, the environment, trade wars, cyber crime, technological displacement and more, they are crying out for a happy distraction. And 44% of gamers say the biggest benefit is improved emotional well-being (Qutee, June 2018).
5. In booming economies, stressed-out citizens also need escapism!
Even in optimistic markets like China, where 91% are happy with the direction the country is headed in, citizens aren’t taking it easy. Societies that experience miraculous economic transformation often place soaring expectations on the next generation to continue the trajectory. The average length of sleep for Chinese people has dropped from 8.8 hours in 2013, to 6.5 in 2018 (Caijing, July 2018).
6. Play leads to happier employees. Happier employees lead to happier consumers.
As we outlined in GLASS BOX BRANDS: in an era of radical transparency, your internal culture is your brand. The wellbeing and engagement of your staff is more visible to consumers than ever before. There are fundamentals to get right (pay, purpose and parental leave) before you try to boost morale with play, but it’s a powerful tool. See how Amazon was able to harness its playful (dog-friendly) culture in a way that softened the blow of Prime Day chaos!
Time to level up your play!
But enough data and theory, let’s get on with bringing you 25 innovations that perfectly capture today’s State of Play.
2019 Trend Event
Our first series of 2019 trend events will take place in Amsterdam, London, New York, and Singapore.
This time we’ll be exploring The Future of Experiences, specifically in-person experiences and the consumer trends placing them at the center of B2C brand and marketing strategies worldwide.