The important lesson the toy industry has learned

October 28, 2015, 8:33 PM UTC
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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: People gather outside Toys R Us for the Black Thursday in Times Square November 22, 2012 in New York City. The store got a head start on the traditional Black Friday sales by opening their doors at 8pm on Thanksgiving night. (Photo by Andrew Kelly/Getty Images)
Photograph by Andrew Kelly — Getty Images

The $22 billion toy industry is making strides towards gender neutrality as more and more retailers discard “boys'” and “girls'” labels, the New York Times reports.

Marshal Cohen, a chief industry analyst at research firm NPD, says that, in regards to gender neutrality, “the world jumped way ahead of retail, and now retail is trying to catch up.”

Target announced that it would get rid of gender specific labels in toy aisles over the summer following controversy on social media when a customer posted a picture of a toy aisle labeled, “building sets” and “girls’ building sets.” Disney Stores have also recently opted for a “for kids” specification on Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, backpacks, and other children’s accessories.

Richard Barry, global chief merchandising officer at Toys R Us, which has also shunned gender specific designations, says, “What we’re seeing is that there are different play patterns that appeal to different kids, and gender lines are not necessarily what drives that.”

Amazon has decided to stop using gendered categories for children’s toys as well, though many retailers continue to use them on their websites to make navigation easier for customers.

Editor in chief of toy review website TTPM Jim Silver commented on the switch towards gender neutrality:

The gender barriers are breaking down, and both manufacturers and retailers are not labeling toys like they used to. The industry’s learned that you shouldn’t be labeling for a specific gender. There are so many girls who want to be Iron Man and Captain America, and boys who want to play with Easy-Bake.


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