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Target Toy Section

In this short essay, I will focus on the marketing of toys to children within Target. As I walked through the toy section at Target in Marshfield, WI, I couldn’t help but notice that I could pick out who was targeted, pardon the pun, for certain products based on nothing more than the color of the packaging and toys themselves.

As I walked by each aisle of the toy section, I could tell within a split second whether the toys in the section were marketed to boys or girls. In the sections that were targeted toward boys, all of the packaging and toys themselves in the entire aisle were blues, greens, reds, blacks, and browns. When I walked by a section that was targeted toward girls, the entire aisle was pink, purple, and pastel blues and greens. Instantly, as a child, you would know whether a section was for you or not for you based on the colors in the aisle. Even the games that were not meant to be gender specific, had a dominant color. For example, Texas Hold’Em was dominantly blue, red and black in its packaging, but an electronic pet game was pink and purple. These games could be played by either a boy or a girl, but based on what I saw in the rest of the store, a boy would be hesitant to play the electronic pet game based on its packaging “for a girl.?

The colors of the packaging were the first things that caught my attention in the store. The second was the way in which the products were organized. In the “boys? section the products were organized in a way on the shelves that put HotWheels, Matchbox and Go Tools together. Also, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Marvel Comics heroes were all together as well. I found it interesting that these shows or characters were not meant many times to be focused at males over females, but that the products tied to them were entirely focused on a marketing plan toward males. Within the “female? section, Bratz and Barbie dolls were located right across the aisle from each other and were right at eye level of someone who was about four feet tall. It was almost as if you could play with Barbie as the Bratz mother if you bought each.

The final item that I noticed when I was there was the lack of racial diversity amongst the products. I noticed that the majority of dolls, male or female targeted, were white. This may have to do with the fact that Marshfield, WI is about as far from diversity as can be imagined, but it was still disturbing. The only racial diversity that did exist within the marketing of products was very African-American dominated. I did not notice any other races represented on packaging or within products in this particular store. I found this interesting since obviously everyone in the world is either black or white.

My overall reaction to the shopping experience was that I felt discouraged. I felt discouraged because all that we have learned in this class so far has been very good, and I would love to think that as a society we could adopt what we have learned and put it into practice, making the world a better place for all to live. This experience brought back a reality that we have a long way to go. How can ideals of equality and love for all overcome consumerism when we live in a society driven by monetary reward and materialism? As a child there is no way to distinguish between these things, and as a result, from an early age we start developing dichotomies between gender and race that last a lifetime. The toys we play with most definitely play a role in this!


colors are very important - they signify gender and "normal" gender roles to consumers even before they can read. from birth the blue = boy and pink = girl is inscribed and then continually reinscribed in every commercial and toy aisle.