Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mattel Gives Barbie a Makeover for China

After closing the doors of the 3,500 square foot, 6-story House of Barbie in Shanghai in 2011, after only 2 years in business, Mattel has launched a new effort to the endear the American doll to Chinese consumers.  Mattel is re-working Barbie's image to better suit Chinese tastes including a "Violin Soloist" Barbie, who sells for 79 yuan (13 USD). Toys are considered by many in China to be a waste of time.  Hong King based consultant Torsten Stocker sums it up, "Joy and learning are like oil and water in China."  Mattel wants to change that and is involving the Chinese government.  It recently paired leader's of the Ministry of Education in China with educational experts who presented their findings on the benefits of play.  The hope is to increase play time in schools.  If this happens, according to Mattel's Asia-Pacific senior vice president, "Half of our marketing is done."  Mattel is trying to appeal to "Tiger moms" who would rather have their children reading than playing.  "Mattel is targeting education-minded parents such as Luo Chongzong, who watched her 9-year-old daughter, Yang Siqi, gaze at a 369 yuan (about $61) "Fashion Design" Barbie playset during a recent visit to a Beijing Wal-Mart. "She loves those dolls, but I had to stop buying them because they distract her from her studies," said Ms. Luo, 33 years old. "She'll spend hours braiding her hair, dressing and undressing her," she said." 

My take: Everything is a balance.  Education is important but it is not the only thing.  You  are only a kid once. I, for one, sure hope that Yang Siqi gets the fashion design Barbie set for Christmas.

Chinese women with their children visit Barbie toys on display for sale at the Kids Fun Expo in Beijing in July

From the House of Barbie

Link to WSJ Article: Mattel Gives Barbie a Makeover for China

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