In recent months, a simple toy has taken TikTok by storm, captivating users and becoming a sensation in Southeast Asia. Known as Lato-lato, this toy features two balls made of wood or plastic balanced on a string. When swung up and down, it produces a distinct and enchanting “click” sound. The magic of this toy quickly caught the attention of TikTok users, leading to a viral trend that dominated the platform in the first half of the year. The Indonesian TikTok blogger, @asrinal_dj8, showcased a new way to play Lato-lato in a video, and it rapidly gained popularity, accumulating 48.4 million views and over 1.7 million likes. The video attracted thousands of comments from intrigued users. As a result, Lato-lato-related content flooded TikTok, with countless videos easily reaching millions of views and the hashtag #latolato amassing an astonishing 2.8 billion views.
The trend extended beyond social media, with enthusiasts sharing various innovative ways to play, participating in skill challenges, and even creating music using the rhythmic sounds of Lato-lato. DIY designs and production of Lato-lato toys also gained traction, as toy merchants recognized the immense market potential and directed users to third-party channels for purchases.
The popularity of Lato-lato was particularly prominent in Southeast Asia, with countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Iraq leading the trend on TikTok. Google Trends data confirm that the toy garnered more attention in Southeast Asia compared to Europe and the United States. In Indonesia, Lato-lato became a national phenomenon, captivating people of all ages and becoming the most sought-after toy in the market.
The name Lato-lato, derived from the Bugis word “latto-latto” meaning “to make a crackling sound,” evoked nostalgia for the post-80s and 90s generations. What was once a childhood memory resurfaced as a popular trend thanks to TikTok. The toy gained such significance that it was even incorporated into public events like weddings to create unique musical effects.
The surge in demand for Lato-lato resulted in substantial profits for local toy manufacturers. One Jakarta-based toy seller claimed to earn up to 1 million rupiahs per day from Lato-lato sales. Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest e-commerce platform, reported a staggering 57-fold increase in Lato-lato toy sales during the new year in 2022-2023.
The popularity of Lato-lato can be attributed to a combination of factors. Firstly, the rise of nostalgia in recent years has made classic toys increasingly popular. People seek comfort and escapism while reliving their happy childhood memories. The concept of “kidults,” adults buying classic toys for themselves, has gained traction, and Lato-lato fits perfectly into this trend.
Furthermore, Southeast Asia has witnessed a boom in the adult toy market for children. Influenced by social media platforms, millennials and Generation X consumers have rekindled their love for nostalgic toys, resulting in a projected 5.4% compound annual growth rate in the retail value of traditional toys and games in the region.
Given these trends, toy brands and sellers in Southeast Asia should capitalize on the nostalgia and retro market by innovatively reimagining popular toys from the 1980s and 1990s. Leveraging platforms like TikTok through short videos and live broadcasts can generate exposure and drive explosive sales.
In conclusion, Lato-lato’s remarkable rise to fame on TikTok showcases the power of social media to drive toy crazes. Its distinct sound and nostalgic appeal struck a chord
with users, creating a viral sensation that spread throughout Southeast Asia. The simplicity of the toy, combined with its captivating sound, captured the imagination of people of all ages, proving that sometimes the most straightforward concepts can have the most significant impact.
The Lato-lato phenomenon highlights the influence of social media in shaping trends and consumer behavior. It serves as a reminder that a single video can spark a global craze, catapulting a previously obscure toy into the spotlight. The power of TikTok as a platform for discovery and viral content cannot be underestimated.
Moreover, the success of Lato-lato demonstrates the enduring appeal of nostalgia. In an era of fast-paced technological advancements, people yearn for the simplicity and joy of their childhood. The reemergence of classic toys like Lato-lato taps into this desire, providing a sense of comfort and a connection to cherished memories.
The toy industry, particularly in Southeast Asia, has recognized the potential of capitalizing on nostalgia and the adult toy market for children. As the region experiences rapid growth, toy brands and sellers have an opportunity to tap into this market by reviving beloved toys from the past and presenting them in innovative ways.
In conclusion, the Lato-lato craze that swept through TikTok in Southeast Asia showcases the power of social media and nostalgia in driving consumer trends. It serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of simple toys and the longing for simpler times. As we navigate an ever-changing world, the popularity of Lato-lato reminds us of the timeless joy and wonder that can be found in the simplest of toys.
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