Realistic Toys Survey: Consumers See Link Between Dolls and Body Image

In the world of kids’ toys, there is perhaps no bigger name than Barbie. But the brand, owned by toy company Mattel, experienced declining sales recently as consumers started to realize the unrealistic expectations the dolls were setting for young girls, according to Medical Daily. In the last couple of years, several toy brands, including Barbie, have come out with more realistic toys and dolls that have proportions and body types that are more healthy examples for kids. Do consumers think there’s a link between kids’ toys and body image issues? We asked 1,000 respondents their thoughts on body image and realistic dolls.

realistic toys

Parental Opinions

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 47% of respondents said they have kids. And those parents seem to value quality and cost above all other factors when it comes to buying toys for their kids. 20% said they find each of those factors to be important. 14% of parents look for educational value in toys. 13% find durability to be important. 12% think the style and materials used are important. And 11% want the toys they buy to set a good example for their kids above all else.

Realistic Toys

More specifically, 28% of parents said they are at least somewhat more likely to purchase dolls or similar toys if they have more realistic body types, as opposed to old-fashioned Barbie dolls and others that may give kids unrealistic expectations. 20% said they would be less likely to purchase realistic dolls or toys. And 51% were neutral. Barbie, Mattel, American Girl and Hasbro were named as parents’ favorite toy companies that provide toys with realistic body types.

In addition, 38% of overall respondents said they have at least a somewhat positive opinion of companies that sell dolls or toys with realistic body types. 16% said that they have a negative opinion of such companies. And 46% were neutral. Parents and non-parents were just as likely to have positive opinions about those companies.

Body Image

In general, 76% of overall respondents agreed that toys should set a good example for kids. 73% think that toys can have a big impact on kids attitudes and expectations. And 66% agree that some toys and dolls can give kids unrealistic expectations about body image.

Looking back, 73% of respondents said they remember having dolls or action figures when they were kids. But only 7% think those toys had very realistic body types. 30% think they were somewhat realistic. 39% said they weren’t very realistic. And 23% said they weren’t realistic at all. Those who played with unrealistic dolls or toys as kids were more likely to agree that toys can give kids unrealistic expectations about body image. They were also more likely to have positive opinions of companies that make realistic toys, and more likely to say that they would purchase those realistic toys for their kids.

Key Takeaways

Offering dolls and other toys with realistic body types seems to be a plus for many parents, but it’s still not as important as things like quality and cost when it comes to toy buying. In addition, it seems that even if a toy brand, like Barbie, has a long history of making toys that can give kids unrealistic ideas about body image, they have the potential to turn it around quickly, since Barbie was named as one of parents’ favorite brands for realistic toys just a couple years after releasing their new line of realistic dolls. In addition, those who played with unrealistic dolls or toys as kids do seem to place more value on having those more realistic toy options for kids now. So toy brands that offer those dolls or action figures with realistic proportions could use that as a talking point to appeal to parents who remember their own experiences and know how it may have had an impact on them.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Barbie by horantheworld under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 29 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.