Neat Geeks

Toy collecting is not just for kids via Dex Creative Commons 2012

Toy collecting is not just for kids via Dex Creative Commons 2012

Teen America: Neat Geeks

From Coasties to the Americana, the US is home to a range of teen subcultures. In the fifth of a series exploring Gen Y and Z tribes, Andrea Graham Richeson explores the Neat Geeks, mega-fans who live to collect toys and pop culture novelties. Is the big kid lifestyle set to enter the mainstream?

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Does growing up mean giving up one’s toys? To Neat Geeks – a subculture built on a love of sci-fi, pop culture and collectibles – the answer is a resounding no. These fans are dedicated collectors and hyper-consumers who are helping drive the $116 billion licensed product and character merchandise industry to new heights. [1] Whether they’ve an intense love for Star Wars, Minecraft, Nintendo or Lego, Neat Geeks are carrying their childhood interests through adolescence and into adulthood. And with the popularity of comic cons and the rise of Bronies, it’s never been more fun or socially acceptable to be a big kid.

The strong sales of adult collectibles and the mainstreaming of geek culture show that the ‘kidult’ phenomenon is more than just a trend, but rather a veritable lifestyle with tremendous business potential. Young people’s lifelong fascination with their favourite childhood characters and media is the new normal, says pop-culture writer and critic Jen Chaney. “Because so many of us were action figure babies, raised after the dawn of movie merchandising, we all love toys and novelties that speak to our pop-cultural fixations,” she explains. [2]

Lego’s 3,800+ piece Star Wars Death Star set, Playmates’ highly detailed Ninja Turtles action figures, and Loot Crate’s monthly geek-themed subscription boxes are all examples of how brands are connecting with their eager Neat Geek customers. Whether it’s born from childhood nostalgia, a desire to unwind from the increasing pressures of adulthood, or just plain old fun, can the consumer behaviour of Neat Geeks show brands how to foster engagement and loyalty for a lifetime? See more at Canvas8