Outdoor play specialists Big Game Hunters is the latest toy retailer to be awarded the Let Toys Be Toys Toymark for selling toys in a gender-inclusive way. Hannah Davey of Big Game Hunters explains why they don’t feel the need to label toys for boys or for girls.
At Big Game Hunters we are passionate about encouraging families of all ages to play. As well as selling a wide range of high-quality outdoor and indoor games, we love to help and advise in any way we can to bring families together in shared creative play.
Toys and games for quality family time
In the hustle and bustle of modern life the time we spend with family and friends is special, so we believe that providing really fun and unique toys and games that appeal to everyone is a wonderful way of helping families to come together.
Inclusive marketing came very naturally to us. Our outdoor toys and games are designed for the whole family, male or female, young or old and there’s absolutely no reason to market them towards one gender or another. Giant-sized garden games are fun, energetic, challenging and suitable for everyone.
Toys for every little one
We are very conscious of gender stereotypes that often surround toys such as dolls houses, play kitchens and play garages, so we are careful to use gender-neutral copy, and we use images with both boys and girls in wherever we can.
We don’t have to go to great lengths to make sure that boys and girls are included in photography. We are a family run business, so many of my colleagues’ children are in the photos.
We have far less control over the photography that’s generated by different manufacturers, so we carefully select the photos that we feel are most suitable.
Toys inspire imaginative play and teach important values
A wonderful comment from Let Toys be Toys states, “If they’re never offered the chance, a child may never find out if they enjoy a certain toy or style of play”.
Toys are a lovely source of inspiration and fun that can teach children about the world around them. If little ones are exposed to gendered ideas and attitudes through these toys at a young age, this may deter them from certain toys that may have otherwise become their favourites – and perhaps even inspired their future. We cannot categorically state that toys have an impact on children’s future professional and personal lives, but equally we cannot ignore the possibility.
It makes perfect sense to be inclusive of all children when promoting different toys and games, and as parents we can do our very best to be open minded towards the types of toys we buy, letting the kids make up their own minds about the types of play they enjoy.
Pink and Blue
Jane O’Sullivan MBE, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, recently argued that it is not the colour of the toy that is the issue but the attitudes, expectations and marketing that surrounds the toys that causes sexism and reinforces gender stereotypes.
This is a very important point to consider and one that we very much believe in ourselves. If these attitudes and beliefs towards certain colours didn’t exist, these colours would be arbitrary. This is why we haven’t avoided certain colours for our products or marketing.
Pink and blue, for example, are beautiful colours and we believe shouldn’t be excluded due to current ideologies that surround them. We are simply careful when using these colours to use gender-inclusive language and visual content to support and present our values.
Why market by gender?
We do understand the temptation for many retailers to steer towards gendered marketing, particularly for online retailers when considering how the site will perform in internet searches. Many customers do use gendered terms to search for the product they would like to buy.
Lucy Tobin, writing for the Evening Standard, suggests it is not just up to retailers to focus on their outlook, but for parents to be wary of the implications too. If we all work together, toys will just be toys; ‘Forget pink Lego for girls – just let toys be toys’.
Of course, gender stereotypes are rooted deep within our society and it would be naive to believe that removing gendered marketing within the toys and games industry will break down all barriers. But it is a fantastic start to a new way of thinking and brings positivity to little ones’ horizons at a time when they’re incredibly perceptive and quick to learn about the world around them.
We love play and we want everyone to love play
Our goal is to share our love for play with everyone. We want to show how play is both fun and beneficial for the whole family and to meet everyone’s needs for exciting outdoor or indoor activities. We are so proud to have such a lovely range of products as well as a team of ‘play experts’ that are so passionate and committed to encouraging play, making it fun for everyone.