Why is it that children’s toy sections in department stores are almost always separated by gender? What about the girls who like superheros or the boys who like pink? This is a question that’s being asked more and more frequently as consumers, products and brands challenge the old status quo. (Remember this little girl’s request for more female LEGO minifigures with less stereotypical occupations?)
The latest major retailer to make headlines on the subject is Target; about a month ago, a mother and blogger called out the company for gender-specific labeling she found unnecessary:
— Abi Bechtel (@abianne) June 1, 2015
Though the reactions to her opinion were predictably mixed, thousands shared her post. The idea garnered so much support, in fact, that Target has decided to respond–not just with words, but with tangible action.
In a new blog post, the company announced that it will be eliminating gender-specific labeling for certain children’s products, including toys, home, and entertainment (not clothing, as the company clearly states, though that hasn’t stopped thousands of opponents from freaking out):
“…we never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented. Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not…as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.
We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months…”
Both positive and negative responses to the announcement have been passionate. Here’s a screenshot of just one comment and a few of the many responses it has received:
Needless to say, if Target was hoping for attention, it has succeeded.
Now that such a major retailer has made this shift, we wouldn’t be surprised to see other big companies take steps to follow suit…and at least one to proudly announce that it will keep all of its gender-specific labeling in an effort to poach all those angry about Target’s decision (sigh).