Doc McStuffins

A Walt Disney character that’s black, female and a doctor is resonating with both girls and boys, across racial lines, reports Matt Townsend in Bloomberg Buisnessweek (12/5/13). Over the past two years, Dottie ‘Doc’ McStuffins "has gained stardom on cable TV and in the toy aisle." She is "a 6-year-old aspiring doctor who treats her toys with help from her dragon and snowman friends and a magic stethoscope." She is a rare example of a new toy breaking through in an industry "that tends to re-boot old brands," like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for instance.

Some retailers were indeed surprised by Doc’s popularity last holiday season, "leaving them with insufficient inventory." That won’t be a problem this year, with a quadrupling of the toy’s shelf space at its "top four US retail accounts — Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Kmart." Jennifer Dominiquini of Sears ascribes the toy’s popularity to "that human need for nurturing." Nancy Kanter of Disney says the doll’s race is also a key factor. "It’s important to us that the brand and content represents the world as kids live it and see it, and that is a world that’s very diverse."

For Jennifer Chandler-Saunders, mother of a 3-year-old, the doll’s race is a big factor. Jennifer is white and thinks "its kind of cool kids can look up to someone" of a different color. Disney is busy building out the brand with "licensed accessories, including clothes, bedding and even Doc McStuffins Band-Aids from Johnson & Johnson." They’ve also added a blue checkup kit for boys, who apparently like to play doctor, too. Its growth has "helped more than double retail sales of Disney Junior products, to $1.8 billion for the fiscal year ended Sept. 28."

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