Bloomberg’s Rosalind Chin has reported that Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toy company, is releasing a new Chinese Celebrity Barbie doll. This product aims to help in expanding the brand within the Chinese market. This Mon., Jun. 2, Chin spoke to Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television’s “First Up” about the venture.
Chin explains that, “They [Mattel Inc.] look at it [the Chinese market] not just as huge market, which it is, but also because it needs to offset falling sales elsewhere, especially sales of Barbie.”
In 2009 the “House of Barbies”, a flagship store, opened in Shanghai. The store was huge with a spa, restaurant, and other amenities. Nevertheless, it closed merely 2 years later and had to cut its sales targets by at least 30% because it wasn’t selling enough Barbie dolls.
The House of Barbies situation exemplifies the issue that Mattel Inc. has encountered with the Chinese market. The store failed because it didn’t adjust to the cultural tastes of its surroundings. A major appeal that this store lacked was Barbies that could provide educational purposes. As Chin point out, education in Asia is a major factor. Parents didn’t want to pay “big bucks for just a plaything.”
Additionally, the typical Barbie design is losing relevance in the modern world in general. Young girls have greater aspirations for their lives and careers than simply beauty and fashion. Mattel Inc. has taken notice of this positive progression in society and adjusted their products accordingly. They have newly released a line of reasonably priced Barbie dolls which have more character to them. For instance, “Violin Soloist” Barbie will be a model amongst this collection. She comes with a bow and a music sheet.
The brand has made numerous efforts to appease the Chinese market in particular. Chin explained that, “To make Barbie more successful in China it [Mattel Inc.] needs to make it more relevant to Chinese girls. And this is one of the key things that Mattel is trying to do, it’s trying to make the brand more relevant to China.”
The brand even paired leaders of China’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture with educational experts who showed them evidence of benefits in play. They are intending to increase play time in those schools and thus promote their products.
Fortunately, other toy brands are also taking a tip from Mattel’s marketing and trying to make their toys more educational. The future generations are already looking brighter.