We’ve heard it all before, girls are nurturing, sensitive souls who like to play with pink dolls. Boys on the other hand are unruly and noisy, usually when playing with cars or kicking a ball.
Yes, this is often the case but just as often, it isn’t. I for one have three girls, two of whom are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One likes dancing, ponies and makeup. The other had a Christmas wish list that consisted of Thor’s hammer and dinosaurs.
So why do we continue to put our children in gender related boxes and should you change your marketing plans when dealing with products aimed to the younger market?
I would be mendacious if I were to claim that there are no differences between males and females; after all, biologically, we are worlds apart. However, when it comes to our psychological behaviours and capabilities, there is evidence to support the fact that men and women, in addition to boys and girls, are more similar than they are different.
There have been a number of studies carried out in the last ten years that have had the sole purpose of investigating how our gender impacts our personality. The most recent findings showed that a surprising 78% of gender differences were either non-existent or minor.
In general, men tend to be stronger than women, more aggressive and possess a higher sex drive. However, these studies also showed that these physiognomies peak and trough according to age and environmental influences; directly challenging the perception of large gender differences.
So what does this have to do with marketing, PR and kids?
Well nothing really, but that’s exactly my point.
If there really is little to no gender differences, by telling our kids that princesses are for girls and swords are for boys, we are essentially telling them what they should think and feel and enforcing a particular set of skills and mind-set based only on a stereotype of their sex.
So what should you do?
We would suggest getting ahead of the game on this one. Don’t stop marketing your cars to boys and your play kitchens to girls; just involve the other sex too!
Start promoting your goods for either sex and making a mixture of clothing that allows the child to choose based on what they want and not the preconceived notion, often from the parents, about what toys they should be playing with.
On that note, if anyone can point me in the direction of a dress with a t-rex on with a purple tutu attached, as per my daughters orders, I will be eternally grateful!