Kids Insights, a global leader in kids’ market intelligence, surveys more than 2,500 children every week, across four continents and eight countries, and more than 125,000 children a year. Our latest UK reports are predominantly based on the results of surveying 5,325 children between 1 October and 31 December 2019, though it also utilises data we have collected since May 2017.
Heading into 2020, there are a number of societal trends that remain top of mind from the end of the last decade, one of which is inclusivity and gender equality. It is something younger generations are aware of and it’s an issue that has become of particular importance to parents. None more so than Gen Z parents, where two in five (42 per cent) say that it is the most pressing value they wish to instil in their kids.
Continuing with these societal movements, there has recently been a drive among brands to meet parents’ desires and we have therefore witnessed developments at a brand level and beyond. The likes of Nike and Sport England, brands that occupy a specific area of a child’s ecosystem, have led the way and have both ran campaigns on the empowerment of girls, encouraging confidence, creativity and positivity.
However, creating a more equal toy world for children is something we know is important to parents and it’s imperative that toy brands should be inclusive in their products, as well as their marketing. As a result of these shifting views, we have already seen a recent move in the types of toys some brands are putting on the shelves. A greater number of gender diverse toys have been released recently, with BMC introducing plastic army women and Hasbro releasing ‘Ms. Monopoly’. Mattel, in a move for both inclusivity and gender equality, have also released a line of gender-neutral dolls.
While such developments have occurred at product level, addressing gender stereotyping as in the case above, they are yet to filter through and be reflected in the toys that children choose to play with day to day. When looking at the favourite toys of 3-5s, only three toys from the top 10 list for boys also feature on the top 10 list for girls. Lego, Paw Patrol, and Lego Friends are the only toys to bridge the gender gap between pre-school fans within the top 10, illustrating the challenges of creating toys that appeal to both genders equally.
This trend doesn’t just mean blending conventional gender-based toys – it also involves bringing inclusivity and diversity within more traditional gender spaces. Barbie is a toy that has consistently ranked in the top five favourite toys for girls in Q4 for the past three years (and is especially popular with 3-5s (7.8 per cent)). Educating children on differences between one another and helping those affected not to feel left out, Mattel recently launched a new line of dolls featuring dolls with no hair and vitiligo. Mattel also developed a range of dolls to celebrate International Women’s Day, including a Barbie of Dina Asher Smith, the fastest British woman in history, to inspire young girls and help them believe that they can be anything, particularly in the world of sports where there is often a ‘dream gap’.
In the next year and in the coming decade, we will no doubt see other brands follow suit, creating more inclusive and gender diverse toys. But the challenge will be creating products with broad appeal and it may take a little while until we see the true impact of Gen Z parents purchasing habits changing.
Our methodology enables us to track the entire, interconnected kid’s ecosystem from the toys and games they play with, to their favourite brands and devices. We specialise in helping clients identify new products before the masses do, understand the true performance of a product and how to maximise their investment from a sales and marketing perspective.
To download a complimentary 2020 Future Forecast report, visit kidsinsights.com/toysnplaythings