Big retailers are increasingly moving the toy industry towards lifting the partition between traditional “girl” and “boy” toys. Amazon has been promoting “gender-neutral” toys on their site for years. However, not many Americans will be browsing that category in search of gifts for kids this holiday season. Surveying more than 2,450 U.S. adults, CivicScience finds that just 15% are at all interested in purchasing gender-neutral toys this year.
Of course, that figure contains plenty of people who won’t be shopping for toys at all. When rebased among this season’s toy shoppers, results remain underwhelming: close to one-quarter (26%) of shoppers say they are likely to buy gender-neutral toys, while a meager 10% are “very likely.”
“Gender-neutral” applied to toys is a broad concept, spanning the development of toys focused on removing gender bias and stereotypes, such as LEGO or the rebranded Potato Head, to repositioning how toys are sold in stores or online. For example, you can stroll down Target’s dedicated gender-neutral toy aisle, possibly without even realizing it. California even recently passed a new law requiring large retailers of toy’s and children’s items to include a gender-neutral section.
Despite these efforts, Americans are slow to embrace the idea. Two-thirds of respondents feel that gender neutral toys aren’t likely to become the status quo any time soon and will instead stay niche. Just 11% of respondents think they will become commonplace.
When asked about previous experiences, only 19% of parents with children under the age of 18 claim they have purchased gender neutral toys in the past, while 10% have not but are interested. One-quarter of people have never heard of the term.
Yet it’s unlikely gender-neutral toys are just a passing fad. While most people may not think they’re in the market for gender-neutral toys, in reality, plenty of toy shoppers are already buying them. Details from our 2021 holiday toy shopping study show this year’s most popular toys easily fall under that category: games and puzzles, educational toys, electronics, and outdoors toys. More gender-traditional toys, such as dolls or toy weapons, rank much lower on the list. This may also be due in part to a smaller subset of children for whom these items are age-appropriate.
While the Gen Pop is not very warm to the idea of “gender-neutral toys,” consumer choices may be trending in that general direction. LEGO’s popularity alone as a gift item this year is suggestive of that – check out the LEGO study here and stay tuned for more toy industry insights in 2022.