“Will blond hair and plastic breasts play in China?”

That’s the sub-head of this article on the new Barbie store that opened in Shanghai yesterday. It’s well worth a read:

Barbie’s made-in-China makeover is part of a push to re-brand the iconic American doll on the eve of her 50th birthday. With domestic sales slumping, Mattel has set its sights on China, hoping to the weather the financial storm in the relative calm of the country’s vast — and comparatively untapped — consumer market.

The plan is to turn America’s favorite doll into fashion fodder for China’s upwardly mobile, trend-setting elite. By moving up-market and focusing on Barbie-branded merchandise, the company hopes to widen profit margins and attract a new demographic: Chinese women.

But, will they buy it?

Summer Wang, an assistant at a film production company, certainly will. “Barbie is beautiful like a princess,” she said. “And every Shanghai girl wants to be a princess.”

With malls closing, construction grinding to a halt and a general sense of malaise creeping in, will Chinese consumers continue to keep American companies afloat? I guess that’s the trillion-dollar question. I’m sure every Shanghai girl really does want to be a princess. Will mom and dad continue to finance this dream?

The Discussion: 2 Comments

I’m not a China marketing expert but I fail to see how this will be successful. I hope they did a test marketing study before launching this six-story, 38,000-sq.-ft. Barbie superstore in Shanghai. If it will fly, at least hey picked the right city. Mattel is hurting badly here in North America, and have tried to branch out into adult clothing. I don’t think they’ve done well, despite their previous years of success with Barbie and Ken. China Post says “Barbies have been available at major Chinese department stores for about five years, and knockoff “Barbie” children’s clothes and accessories can be found in any local market.”

This concept might work better in Japan, where there is more of a blond hair/blue eyes worship complex. Fool says “Mattel already has a Barbie clothing line for adults in Japan, although American pop culture icons tend to do well there.” I can see Japanese girls and women dressing like Barbie. Their manga characters also look, to me, like white people.

I just don’t think that girls who play with Barbies grow up wanting to buy adult Barbie clothing. Will women wear Barbie cosmetics and perfumes?

Personally I will not and have not bought my daughter a Barbie. China has many dolls for sale that all look, no surprise here, Chinese. Maybe Mattel will come out with a Chinese version of Barbie.

March 8, 2009 @ 12:20 am | Comment

The world’s first Barbie store is a work of genius

I can’t tell if the guy in the photo is uncomfortable or unhappy. This is sad. I take back all the negative thoughts and words I’ve spoken about McDonalds.

Only time will tell if this store is marketing genius or a dud.

March 10, 2009 @ 4:08 am | Comment

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