Why dolls are enjoying a resurgence

A Girl For All Time and Daughters of History founder Frances Cain on the strong doll category.
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Dolls today are enjoying a huge resurgence in the toy and gift sector and are firmly in the forefront of everyone’s minds for 2013. 

NPD released statistics in September 2012 stating that sales in the girls sector were up from the previous year, with the doll category experiencing a whopping 17 per cent growth over the same period. 

Girls are returning to traditional doll play in significant numbers and it looks to be even stronger for 2013 and beyond. 

Why the shift back to more traditional play and such an enthusiastic return to the doll shelf?

I think several crucial factors have coalesced to reinvigorate this sector that was once the cornerstone of the girls market. One factor is pressure from the buying public for retailers to stock more age appropriate items for girls, which we have seen in campaigns such as ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ and ‘PinkStinks’. 

Another influence comes from industry inspired movements, which have drawn consumer and retailer attention to more traditional play such as the Slow Toys Movement initiated by Asobi.

Finally, I think recent press on the importance of doll role-play in the development of emotionally healthy children is playing a key role in reminding the public and the industry about the importance of doll play. 

I think the retailers themselves have helped shine the spotlight on traditional girls’ play by creating a gender-neutral shopping experience within the toy aisle: by eliminating the ‘pink ghetto’ once so prevalent in toy shops, dolls and action figures can now be seen side by side allowing dolls back into the mainstream of girls merchandising. 

Manufacturers are keen to capture the zeitgeist of today’s market with innovative releases. The smaller, independent manufacturer in particular has been quick to step in and target this growing sector. There have been more new doll concepts, designs and creative doll content – both on line and off line – released over the past 12 months than we have seen in over a decade.

It’s an exciting time in the doll category and there has been a huge amount of interest coming from both the industry and the public. With so many innovations and new concepts coming to market, this dynamic sector may prove to be one of the fastest growing in the girls category for years to come. 

It’s a thrilling time to be part of the industry and I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 and beyond will bring. 

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