By the end of the last decade, a number of pressing issues were on the minds of children and parents alike. These include matters such as sustainability and climate change but also, inclusivity and gender equality. In fact, for Gen Z parents gender equality is the most pressing value for 42%, an issue as equally important to both mums and dads. Additionally, amongst lower-income families (up to £25k) concern with their children having respect for the opposite sex is highest with around a third saying this is one of their top priorities (35%).
In the children’s space, the push for inclusivity is being driven by younger Gen Z and Millennial parents, and brands are listening to their demands. Brands such as Nike and Sport England are running campaigns on the empowerment of girls, encouraging confidence, creativity and positivity. Nike also produced further content through social media challenges, live events (in the US) and a selection of animated workout videos, all aimed to promote their Move initiative amongst girls.
Likewise, there have been movements within the toy sector where there has been a growth in the number of gender diverse toys coming into the market. BMC are introducing plastic army women to sit alongside their collection of army men, a move in part inspired by a 6-year old girl’s letter an initiative backed by military women. In other areas Hasbro has released ‘Ms. Monopoly’, and, in a move for both inclusivity and gender equality Mattel have released a line of gender-neutral dolls.
In line with this, parents who place the most value on gender-equality are more likely to be influenced through social media (51%). This indicates that their preferences to gender balanced ads through these platforms, could be shown through the brands and individuals they follow and in turn, show how their exposure to such ads is also influencing their family morals in a 360’ view.
Despite this, we are yet to see this filter through and be reflected in the toys children choose to play with day to day. When looking at the favourite toys of 3-5s, only 3 toys from the top 10 list for boys also feature on the top 10 list for girls. LEGO, PAW Patrol, and LEGO Friends are the only toys to bridge the gender gap between preschool fans within the top 10, illustrating the challenges of creating toys that appeal to both genders equally.
Brands have an opportunity to reach parents who are particularly interested in gender equality through social media, by displaying content that doesn’t discriminate between gender, but uplifts and empowers everyone. Brands are under pressure to create a landscape where all children are seen as equal and where the values of modern parents are matched. What innovations and changes will we see in the product and marketing pace that will reflect this?
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