By Barrie Simpson,
Many companies have tried to market new products to girls and have failed miserably. There is one key reason these products did not resonate with the audience: They lack themes or subject matter about which girls are passionate.
I believe the reason that girls drop out of the toy market is that there are less meaningful products for girls, than there are for boys. When a product has been developed understanding their needs and wants and marketed to girls as the primary users, girls will stay in the market. If we primarily develop products for boys and treat girls as a secondary market the product doesn’t work. The toy industry standby of “just make it pink and purple and it will sell to girls” is a basic mistake.
When Cathy Rondeau invented Girl Talk and Western Publishing originally developed and marketed the game, we knew we had a winner as the entire game resonated with pre-teen girls. We did extensive research about young girls’ needs & wants and tried to build a product from scratch and were unsuccessful. When Cathy presented us the idea for Girl Talk, we knew the game fulfilled the needs of young girls. This game gave girls the opportunity to share secrets and special moments with other young women in a non-controversial and sharing environment. What seems to be a trivial game is really a product built on basic needs that girls desire – to be able to talk and discuss meaningful topics with other girls their own age. At times that are special to girls, slumber parties, birthday parties, special girls-only events, they want to talk, discuss and share.
We found the same to be true for Pretty, Pretty Princess, another game targeted to a younger female audience. When this game was being researched, we realized we hit on another strong theme – role playing/princess dress-up/jewelry – when one of our testers would NOT give up her crown.
Additional products in the industry like Radica’s Password Journal, which used voice-recognition technology to protect a girls’ most precious secrets in her diary, continue to sell well years after introduction because girls are passionate about their privacy.
What these examples show, is that if you understand your target audience, and build a product from the ground up based on their needs, wants and interests, you can potentially have a winning product. However, you can’t take a boy play pattern, change the colors to pink & purple, and have a product for girls.
I for one believe that American Girl and Lego’s girl’s building program both show that by creating products for the end user, we can keep girls in the market longer.
Some items work for both boys and girls, but as the market ages, and kids become more sophisticated about their wants and needs, products must be developed for the primary target audience. By developing items for girls, we can keep them in the market longer and kill the myth that girls fall out of the toy market sooner because they outgrow the market and are into clothes and make-up.