ViacomCBS Publishes Study on Diversity Among Dolls

ViacomCBS Consumer Products x Nickelodeon

ViacomCBS Consumer Products released the results of a new study commissioned to examine diversity in the dolls product category. Titled “More than Dolls,” it explores the factors that influence purchasing decisions of Black, Hispanic, White and Asian moms.

“ViacomCBS Consumer Products is committed to creating products that speak to and depict the full spectrum of diversity in the world consumers live in,” said ViacomCBS’ president of consumer products, Pam Kaufman. “Through our ‘More Than Dolls’ study we aim to inform and help guide our amazing partners across the consumer products industry, where we have the ability to make a significant impact and contribute to positive and long-lasting social change.”

More Than Dolls was inspired by the 1947 doll test conducted by doctors Mamie and Kenneth Clark. Executed this year in partnership with Horowitz Research and C Space, it surveyed 900 moms and their daughters aged 2 to 9. The study also conducted interviews and video diaries to expand on the findings.

The questions explored what kind of dolls the girls had and why, how they play with them, and unmet gaps in the marketplace. An additional deep dive was designed to probe how attitudes around racial awareness are shifting in today’s consumer landscape.

“Dolls are more than just toys, they are reflections of our society, showcasing the cultural standards of beauty that so many young girls internalize,” said Ameeta Held, VP of insights and business strategy for ViacomCBS Consumer Products. “The relationship that dolls have to girls’ self-esteem and their perceptions of themselves is a powerful one. It plays an important role in the development of their own aspirations and dreams.”

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • When surveyed to find out what girls owned in terms of the perceived race and ethnicity of their dolls the results were: Black girls were most likely to own dolls that reflect their own race.  Both Hispanic and Asian girls tended to own a diverse mix of dolls, followed by white dolls. White girls owned predominantly white dolls by a wide margin (61% owned predominantly white dolls); and while a diverse mix of dolls ranked as their number two choice, they were the least likely to own diverse dolls.
  • 51% of moms surveyed agree they have recently become more conscious of the choices they make around the dolls they purchased this past year.
  • 66% of moms surveyed said they encourage their daughters to play with dolls of a different race/ethnicity than their own.
  • 77% of moms surveyed feel that having dolls of diverse race/ethnic mix can help their girls learn about racial and cultural diversity.
  • The number one driver of doll choice among girls surveyed was that the doll looked like them. It was also the top driver of doll choice for moms.
  • However, 52% of Black moms and 49% of Hispanic moms say there are not enough dolls of their race/ethnicity in general.
  • Specific variables that were top of mind for moms of color as they considered dolls for their girls include: matching skin tone (71% average), matching hair (56%), the same body type (31%) and matching eyes (26%).
  • 53% of moms surveyed said there not enough dolls/toys that represent strong, positive, Black/Hispanic/Asian role models – but beyond that moms want authentic dolls that reflect possibilities for their daughters.
  • Nearly 66% of Black and Hispanic moms go out of their way to buy brands that are making the effort to be more racially inclusive and diverse.
  • Beyond appearance, the doll’s identity was also important to the moms/daughters. Elements like clothing and accessories, name, profession, hobbies and reflections of her culture all needed to be authentically relatable.