This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Richard Gottlieb

saturating and boring. In short, the toy industry went from having boy’s toys and girl’s toys to having boy’s toys and Girly-Girl toys. Peggy Orenstein, in her newest book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” states that today’s little girls are much “pinker” than her generation was as children. Is Orenstein correct in her assessment? Are her observations just anecdotal or do they have substance. We at USA Toy Experts decided to find out by conducting a survey of 1510 mothers in 48 states. We asked moms to tell us what toys they played with as children. In a separate question we asked them what toys their daughters currently play with. Here is what we found:

Toy Guns

Construction Action Figures Cars/Trucks Science Kits

Moms 25% 34% 45% 39% 40%

Daughter 16% 27% 24% 32% 33%

What we uncovered was a definite widening of the gender gap between boys and girls in their toy choices. As is apparent, toys that could be construed as gender neutral (although boys play with them there is no reason girls cannot) have eroded in terms of interest from girls. It is fascinating that at a time in history when women are in combat roles and females are in the majority on college campuses, the gap between toy preferences has increased. If I was a construction toy company; a company that makes toy cars and trucks or one that makes educational products; I would have great concern over these figures. Not only have these companies not been able to increase their sales across the gender divide but their sales have notably shrunk. This is not to say that there are no “Girly Girls.” Rather, this is to

say, that there are many kinds of girls and “Girly Girls” are just one segment. What about girls who are into sports, technology or nature? Maria Costa Ferrer and Miriam Morante Bonet AIJU chose to ignore the twin gender buckets of male and female when considering what interested children. Rather they did a survey of over 1507 European children and divided them up as follows: • Princesses • Feminines • Sport • Technology • Naturals • TV Adventurers • Tots

What they found was that over 45 per cent of the girls surveyed were neither classified as Princesses or Feminine. How interesting can toys be to girls who do not seek out the overtly feminine but are interested in things that defy gender classification?


The fascination with princesses and the magic that go with them stem from a storybook view of the world. Storybooks are for very young children who still believe in the magic. Sadly, children do leave the magic behind as they get older. By shaping a view of toy play as about princesses, we in essence make all toys a pre-school category. In other words, we have managed to discredit the notion that toys are for any girl other than a young child.

Any look at the NPD statistics of girl’s purchases over the last 10 years shows steady erosion in toy play by girls over eight years old. Bottom line, girls didn’t just get more sophisticated; the toys they have been offered have gotten less so.

What can we do about it? The most essential step for the industry to take is to take responsibility for its loss of the girl market. Thinking that one is buffeted by societal and cultural forces beyond one’s control leads to a sense of helplessness and passiveness; by owning responsibility, the industry will in essence empower itself to take action; but what actions are required?

Rethink the toy department Everyone wants to play so create a toy department or toy store that is for everyone. Step away from a child focus and broaden the appeal so that everyone thinks the department is a place they are welcome and belong.

Brand messaging, department layout, merchandising, marketing and advertising needs to be aimed, at least in part, at older demographic groups. For example, if a toy retailer decided to focus on teens, they would pull in teens and at the same time attract those who aspire to be teens…tweens and younger children.

Enough with pink

Mattel made an excellent move in the 1950’s when it chose to make “Barbie Pink” an iconic color. Unfortunately, every other toy company appealing to girls has gotten on the pink bandwagon as well. What started out as a sophisticated color has turned into one that is associated with Girly-Girl and immaturity? In short, broaden the pallet.

Enough with princesses I don’t blame Disney for pushing its Princesses franchise. It’s a great idea. Again, the entire toy industry has jumped on board and we have overwhelmed our toy departments with products that are deemed too young for girls over six.

Brainstorm We are so locked into constricted ways of seeing toys that we miss the obvious. Fashion and design are a form of construction. Females may not go into construction and architecture as much as men do but they do in overwhelming numbers go into interior design and fashion. So, as an example, rather than painting Lego pink, try creating products that work with Lego to give them a sense of fashion rather than adventure.


The video game industry invests great amounts of money and time into R&D. Perhaps instead of creating and selling new products over a 12 month period we should consider breaking out of our short cycle frame of mind. Let’s invest more, take longer and not just market a new toy but change the paradigm for what is a great toy. There is a very big opportunity here for those toy companies willing to rethink how they approach the girl’s category. Those who do will discover new revenue sources and can easily establish themselves as providers of toys for girls of all ages. Are you involved in creating, designing, manufacturing, retailing and/ or toys for the 21st century girl? If you are, then let’s get started on creating toys for girls eight and up. They are waiting for us to begin.

21 richardgottlieb

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84