No ordinary dummy

Do realistic mannequins make kids aspire to own the clothes they see?
Custom World Cup soccer mannequins rest in a corner at Fusion Specialties, a mannequin company, in Broomfield, Colo., Jan. 27, 2011. With retailers scrambling for an edge in the economic recovery, the generic white, skinny mannequin is being pushed aside by alternatives that entice shoppers with curves, unusual poses and even famous faces and bodies. (Kevin Moloney/The New York Times)
No ordinary dummy
Kevin Moloney/The New York Times

Disney stores in the United States have implemented a new marketing ploy to attract shoppers, and children in particular—hyper-realistic mannequins. According to Jeff Zimmerman, Disney’s regional store manager in Southern California, the dolls, which are developed by the Colorado mannequin-making company Fusion, are the perfect spending trigger for prepubescent consumers because they’re “aspirational.”

In other words, if kids see clothes on fake kids who look real, they’re more likely to want to buy the merchandise. It may sound far-fetched but apparently it works: 32 Disney stores that have adopted the mannequins reported a sales increase in clothing modelled on the dolls. The trend has captivated other U.S. retailers like Athleta and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who have all ordered their own sets.