John Lewis have responded to our letter querying their use of boys and girls categories on their website.
We’re disappointed that they are committed to using gender filters that maintain the notion of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys.
You can read our original letter to John Lewis here.
Dear Let Toys Be Toys,
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your letter dated 13 September, I have been away from the business and wished to send you a personal response to the issues you have raised.
Firstly, I can confirm that in our shops we do not have gender specific signage to guide customers to a particular range of products in the Toys department.
With regards to when our customers are shopping online, we offer many ways in which they can browse and refine their searches within our range of toys, for example by age, event, type of toy or brand. We regularly review which options our customers prefer to use, and we repeatedly find that the vast majority of our customers choose to filter the toys assortment by gender.
We deliberately present a very broad range of toys when customers do refine their search by gender as we appreciate it really is up to our customers, rather than ourselves, to determine what is appropriate. We think of this more as offering “Ideas for Boys’ Toys” and “Ideas for Girls’ Toys” and have plans to rename them as such going forwards.
At John Lewis, we strive to offer our customers the best possible shopping experience, either when they visit one of our stores, or shop with us online. As with all areas of our business, we continue to listen to the voice of our customer and value any feedback that we receive.
And here’s our response:
Dear Mr Lewis
Thank you very much for your e-mail. We appreciate you taking time to respond to us personally.
We were surprised to hear that your customers do tend to use your gender filter when searching for toys as this differs from feedback we’ve received from other retailers (many of whom have decided to drop gender filters altogether). We have, however, heard from parents who use gender filters when they find websites difficult to navigate by other means, for example searching “boys” when shopping for space-themed toys for a girl. It would be interesting to see what proportion of these searches result in a sale compared to other methods of navigation.
We are disappointed by your decision to maintain the notion of “boys toys” and “girls toys”, even if both sections show a relatively mixed group of toys. We believe that reinforcing the idea that boys and girls are supposed to like different toys can in itself be damaging. There’s some interesting blogs on our website about the harm that can be done from this type of thinking: http://lettoysbetoys.org.uk/bullying-the-role-of-gender-based-marketing/ and http://lettoysbetoys.org.uk/thats-for-girls-and-thats-for-boys/
One of our supporters recently contacted your customer service team about “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts for Her” sections on the website and received an encouraging response:
“The point you raise is very valid, and I fully agree with your comments regarding gender stereotypes being enforced in such a way. I have raised this matter with our web team… such attitudes are rather old fashioned and I was disappointed to see that the website was marketing goods in this way.”
We would argue that if stereotyping for adults is old fashioned, the same applies to stereotyping for children.
We hope this is the start of an ongoing conversation and will be happy to pass on any further customer comments to you (the vast majority of these will be via Twitter).
Let Toys Be Toys
Let John Lewis know what you think:
or contact John Lewis customer services.
You can find out more about how retailers have responded to the Let Toys Be Toys campaign on our Who’s doing what? page.