Argos responds to mum's gender discrimination claim

Retailer states 'we do not support the enforcement of stereotypes of any kind', but claims 'some customers do prefer to search for toys by gender, especially when buying presents'.
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Argos has responded to Laura Martin's letter sent to the retailer's CEO and ToyNews on Monday, which took issue with the gender specific marketing in the retailer’s latest catalogue.

In the reply from Argos toy trading manager Andrea Abbis, the retailer states it does 'not support the enforcement of stereotypes of any kind; not just by gender, but also race, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.'

The retailer also confirms that it has changed the way it categorises toys, but acknowledges some customers do like shopping for toys for children by gender.

Argos' complete response can be read below:


Dear Laura

Thank you for your email of 28th July to John Walden regarding the marketing of toys in the Argos catalogue. John has asked me to respond to this as I am responsible for buying toys in our business.

At Argos, we take our responsibilities as the one of the UK’s leading and longest established toy retailers very seriously and we do not support the enforcement of stereotypes of any kind; not just by gender, but also race, religious beliefs and sexual orientation. We work very hard to ensure all of the advertising in our catalogue complies with industry self regulation standards set out in the CAP (Committee for Advertising Practice) code.

We serve 140 million people in our stores every year and we recognise that we have a very diverse range of customers with differing perspectives. Our aim is to listen to as many of their views as we can and use this insight to inform how we market products to provide the best possible experience for customers.

We have already taken on board customer feedback regarding the presentation of toys in our catalogue and online and have changed the way we categorise toys. In previous catalogues we split toys by ‘Girls’ and ‘Boys’ but in the Autumn/Winter edition launched last week, the section opener on p1432 lists toys by type such as Arts & Crafts, Action Figures and Fashion Dolls. This also applies to argos.co.uk. We believe this approach will enable parents and children to make independent decisions about which toys appeal to them.

However, we know that some of our customers do prefer to search for toys by gender, especially when buying presents for children. They want help in getting the present right for the child receiving the gift and this guidance is often determined by gender. That’s why we have retained a listing for Girls and Boys toys in the catalogue index to help these customers navigate the toy section.

Many of the toys listed on our web channels and our catalogue are shown without any children pictured, meaning it’s very easy for parents and children to make their own minds up about which toys are right for them. Artwork which features people, including children, is generally provided by our suppliers.

Lots of research is done into what toys appeal to girls and boys, and to children generally, which is used by manufacturers to develop products and supporting photography. We are committed to working with our suppliers to look at ways to ensure a broader representation of gender through imagery and marketing materials. There are already examples in the catalogue where we depict both boys and girls playing with toys (p1546/1547) and we will continue to take this approach where possible.

Our priority remains ensuring we provide the best possible service and experience for our customers and ensuring we offer toys that children will love and want to play with, irrespective of their gender. We will continue to listen to our customers and use their feedback to help develop and improve our toy offer now and in the future.

Yours sincerely

Andrea Abbis
Toys Trading Manager
Argos Ltd

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