Monday, February 14, 2011

Gender and Toys

Also just in time for this... I went to a Gender and Toys presentation at Toy Fair this morning.
The presentation itself was to release the findings of Richard Gottlieb and his group on the subject which were, to summarize broadly:
            • Pink isn't as desirable a motivating factor in toy purchase as one might think.
            • Few mothers want to buy their child a gun toy regardless of gender.
            • The overwhelming majority of the survey population does not think that toy play determines sexual preference. 
The most interesting part of this study is that it is just beginning. Also announced in this presentation is a conference in Los Angeles in April on Girls, Toys and Media. This study, whose results are not yet publically available, is only the surface of an endeavor to really study the behavior of girls and toys with an eye toward the industry. The audience was also a great mix of Toy Industry leaders who actually care about the issue, not only because it's obvious that there are disconnects, but because failing to address it can not only be unsatisfying for those creating and marketing these items, but for consumers as well and that leads to a loss of profits.

As Gottlieb pointed out, the ultimate bad guy in the issue of toys is an idea of market departments in stores that dates back to the 1880s, and by cleaving so strongly to those departments, a lot of more nuanced  harder to quantify products haven't been brought to market because they don't quite fit. The grand conspiracy to keep girls off marketing and keep girls toys pink is less about some grand social engineering scheme, and more a sense of "oh I hadn't thought of that" and in so many industries, the next step is to be constantly challenging ourselves to think in ways we haven't before. 

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