Trend Alert: Mattel's Creatable World

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

35% of Gen Z say they personally know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, while in California, the number of teens who identify as gender non-conforming is a substantial 27%.

Progressive views around identity issues, such as gender, is a Gen Z trend that we expect to see even more strongly in Gen Alpha. While Gen Z have grown up in a time when trans and non-binary people are gaining visibility, the current trajectory suggests that, for their younger siblings, an understanding of the diversity and complexity of gender will be the norm.

Brands selling products for Gen Alpha are very conscious of this development, and some have changed their product ranges accordingly. John Lewis became the first major UK retailer to offer exclusively gender-neutral childrenswear in 2017, while in the US, Walmart and Target no longer separate toys for girls and boys.

One toy company that wants to pioneer this new way of thinking is Mattel - a notable statement from a business whose most popular brands include Barbie and Polly Pocket, historically known for asserting traditional images of femininity. Last week, they launched the world’s first gender-neutral doll. Creatable World is a line of dolls with figures and features that don’t appear obviously male or female, allowing children to style and dress them up in any way they choose. Each doll comes with a selection of wigs, clothes and accessories giving kids free rein to play without consideration of gender.

Many of Gen Alpha (born 2010 and later) have Millennial parents, which plays a key role in defining how their childhoods differ from past generations. Millennials are concerned about how their parenting techniques will impact their children as they get older, and with rising awareness of gender issues, they want to make sure their kids don’t feel oppressed by stereotypical expectations of girls and boys. This ranges from ditching the gender reveal party and choosing gender-neutral colours for nursery decor to, in some cases, raising children with they/them pronouns until they’re old enough to choose their own.

Examples like this demonstrate how the toy industry is responding to demand for more inclusive products in a creative and innovative way. What can your brand do to prepare for the next generation of young consumers and the values that will drive their spending?

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