Left unchecked, you will crush my daughter, who plays house with boys and superheroes with girls, loves her ballet, and has a huge stack of unused princess toys because many of her relatives and friends won’t shop for her outside of the girl section.
Don’t worry, I will not let you pull the joy from my four-year-old’s play, no matter how she doesn’t fit the segmentation you believe she is in. I will help her find the toys she likes best.
You will, however, lose any revenue you might get by properly conducting your market research and your segmentation, and actually create toys my daughter would like, then market them to her. That choice and loss is yours.
On Christmas morning, I watched my daughter open the gift that made her the most excited, a Queen Elsa outfit her grandparents thought she would love. For whatever reason, of all the Disney princesses, she loves Queen Elsa the best–Elsa can freeze people. She loved the outfit and wore it excitedly for about an hour.
Then my four-year-old daughter put her Elsa dress up clothes away, and hasn’t looked at it since.
Her second Santa gift, the one she asked for, comes out regularly. She loves being a dinosaur who can eat people. It comes out again and again around the house, leaving her magic wands, her crowns (she has three of each), and her princess toys in the sidelines.
Yet, without a single Star Wars toy, she happily runs in with makeshift lightsaber in hand, to play Jedi. She has her father and me shoot our fingers at her, as she cuts down the bad guys with a swing of her magic wand-turned-lightsaber.
She turned to her dollar store wand turned into lightsaber instead of a toy made by Disney.
You might just get me to spend more money on your toys for her, if you included her in the toys she would like…
You see, Disney, your princesses bore her. And so I don’t buy them for her.
Other people do.
You even take steps to keep my daughter out of the sections she would most enjoy. While you finally have a Rey Lego Set, I remember three months ago when I walked into a Target aisle with Lego Star Wars, and my little four-year-old almost cried, as she told me she was not ALLOWED to be in the “boy” section. You did that to my daughter, as she knows she can play with the same toys at home to her hearts delight.
Then, when she runs up to the same toys with happiness in Fred Meyer, I see what they did. Disney, they went against you and all the marketers mistaking gender for a character trait and put gender diversity in their toy section. They even had a freaking Peeta Barbie doll for crying out loud.
And yet, you still divide your worlds into “girl” worlds and “boy” worlds. In doing so, you get girls who half-heartedly embrace your “girl” princesses and uses a pink flower wand to fight finger guns, because she thinks you banned her from your boy section. In reality, if your marketers have their way, they would ban her from the “boy” toys.
Disney, your marketers ensure she does not want to spend money on you.
Disney, stop dividing your segmentation into easy and false divisions and instead look at the true traits of your fans. Like, say, what they actually find interesting.
Yes, I know that when you have force fed toys to children along gender lines for over a decade, it is easier to sell to boys and girls as if they had nothing in common. Getting rid of that fiction would double your possible market share.
My daughter can and will find toys to play in your boy worlds as much as she wants. The question is, will you make money from it?
For those of you who say I should just let my little girl like what she likes, and stop making an issue where there is none, just as soon as the toy makers and toy stores start selling her toys she wants to play with instead of making her want to cry from exclusion, I will, but not until then.
Picture Copyright Claire Jennings