We’re delighted to see the end of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ categories in the major retailer’s online store, as well as clearer, inclusive signage in stores.
Back in 2013 Let Toys Be Toys met with Toys R Us to discuss concerns about the gendered way in which toys were being marketed. At that meeting Toys R Us committed to replacing gendered signage in its stores and producing more inclusive catalogues. They also promised to look further into whether they could make changes to their web categories and consider how products are grouped in store. It’s great to see the results of those discussions now online, and in stores.
No more ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ categories on the Toys R Us site
The new-look Toys R Us UK site gives customers plenty of ways to browse and sort toys, including age range, brand, and genre (eg construction, dolls etc), but toys are no longer categorised as ‘Boys’ or ‘Girls’.
Our 2014 research found that fewer than half UK toy websites were using gender as a navigational tool, a drop of 46% since 2012, so it looks like Toys R Us are following the retail trend in allowing children to choose for themselves what they think is interesting.
Last year we highlighted how the Toys R Us website was still telling shoppers which toys were suitable for boys or for girls with the story of train-loving Abbie. Her Mum, Kim, explained that Abbie had been given a hard time at school for her love of trains and Spider-Man shoes already, so finding out that even the toyshop thought girls weren’t supposed to like trains had been quite a blow.
When Kim contacted Toys R Us they defended their use of boy/girl categories, saying that consumers really needed them.
Great new in-store signage
We’re also really pleased to see changes in store. Ilford store (pictured before and after) has moved from garish pink ‘Girls Girls Girls’ towards much more inclusive ‘Baby Dolls’ and ‘Fashion Dolls’ signs.
The placement of toys also seems more logical now, with Lego Friends placed in construction rather than under ‘Girls’ away from the rest of the Lego as was the case in 2013.
In Christmas 2013 Toys R Us impressed us with their more inclusive Christmas catalogue. Although the 2015 version does include some good images of boys and girls playing together, there are still some pages which only show one gender, meaning there’s nothing to reassure a car-loving girl, or a boy who would like a doll, that they can enjoy playing with these toys too. Spanish retailer Toy Planet have received widespread praise for their inclusive catalogue.
We’d like to see Toys R Us build on their 2013 success to show children playing together, and with a wider range of toys.
We’d also like to see all other Toys R Us UK stores picking up on the good example of stores like Ilford, to make them truly welcoming to all children.
Thank you Toys R Us
We’d want to say a big Thank You to Toys R Us UK for bringing in the changes they have so far. This shows a real effort being made to be more inclusive to all children and the results will no doubt make a lot of children and parents happy this Christmas.
We saw that Richard Barry, the retailer’s global chief merchandising officer was quoted recently in the New York Times, saying, “What we’re seeing is that there are different play patterns that appeal to different kids, and gender lines are not necessarily what drives that.” We hope this means that similar changes will soon be visible across Toys R Us stores internationally.