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Farewell to "boys" and "girls" labels

Toys 'R' Us will not differentiate toys by gender in the UK

  • Key4Communications

The British subsidiary of Toys 'R' Us has announced that it will no longer differentiate their toys by gender. The company will stop saying which items are for boys or for girls both in its stores as in its marketing and communications actions, and will show kids playing with all kinds of toys and games.

This decision comes after the actions of Let Toys Be Toys, a consumer association that works to ensure campaigns are not aimed specifically at boys or girls. In fact, thanks to the actions of this group, companies such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and The Entertainer, among others, have dropped "girls" and "boys" signs from the aisles.

Also, Top Toys, which operates as a franchisee of Toys 'R' Us in northern Europe, published some months ago a catalogue with exchanged typical gender roles, including boys playing with dolls and girls shooting guns.

This is not just a politically correct imposition: play also changes with society, and it does much more than our preconceptions make us believe. As an example and given the high imitative component given in toys, kitchens are ceasing to be exclusive toys for girls -boys also want to play with them, as they increasingly see how their dads cook at home.

Another example of a stereotype that prevents children from playing how they want: Playmobil produced a football play set in which the athletes were female clicks. This set could not be marketed in Spain because, in this case, retailers thought it will fail, despite the fact that girls are increasingly interested in brands typically aimed at boys, such as sports and superheroes.

As Inma Marín, founder of Marinva, explains in the special report "Toys are more than gifts" (published in the Spanish trade magazine Juguetes B2B ), "toys do not have any gender, there are no toys for girls or for boys, as anybody can be interested in any game. Play is free and spontaneous."

Obviously, no one should make a child to play with a certain toy just because it seems right to do so. We should simply not restrict all their playing opportunities. Also and for toy professionals, this gender strategy is clearly a business error. As Emili Alsina, director of Ediciones Just, wrote, "why giving up 50% of our potential market?"

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