Lego builds big profits on new girls' toys line

Lego's website promotes its new lines of toys for girls.

New Lego toys, sexist or just fun? Lego's new line of girl-friendly toys has helped push the Danish toy maker's sales up 24 percent. But the new line, which was created specifically for girls, has come with controversy. Critics say the new line reinforces gender stereotypes. Some activists say Lego should “stop selling out girls.”

Take a look at the pictures to your left, Mia's bedroom and a treehouse. Would you buy these toy sets or similar ones for your daughter, niece, or a little girl?

In regards to the controversy, Lego has released a statement: "We want to correct any misinterpretation that Lego Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of Lego products already available. Lego Friends joins this global collection of products as yet another theme option from which parents may choose the best building experience for their child’s skill and interest."

We want to know what you think. Sound off in the comments section below and let us know whether the new toys are sexist or just fun.

Stay tuned to tonight's Marketplace for the radio story.

Sally Herships: If you’re a fan of Lego and you’ve seen the company’s new Lego Friends toys -- you may be wondering -- what’s with all that purple and pink?

Greg Livingston: Those are colors girls like.

Greg Livingtson is COO of Curiosity Advertising. The company specializes in kids and families.

Livingston: Kids are very good at telling you what they like and what they don’t like.

Seems like Lego is listening. So far this year 27% of lego sets purchased, have been for girls. Last year –it was less than 10%. Livingston says since construction toys, like Legos, have traditionally been a tough sell to girls, it makes sense the brand would try to expand in a stereotypical way.

Livingston: Superheroes do skew more boys. And it does that not just as kids but as adults. Young adults, 20-35 group,  super hero movies, there are more boys that go than girls.

The Toy Industry Association says the toy market generates $21.2 billion dollars a year in sales. And Lego says it researched the new toys for years.  But, there’s been some consumer push back against Lego’s friends.

Shad Foos: I don’t think they’re sexist.

Shad Foos works with C3, a marketing and product development company that makes toys. He says stereo and gender types exist in the toy business for a reason.

Foos: I think it’s good business. They’re not going to make it if it’s not going to sell, right?

And Livingston says when it comes to toys boys will be boys -- but girls are more likely to play with toys made for both sexes.

In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.


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