The Case Study Of Barbie's Success Story

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  • Topic: Mattel, Barbie, Ruth Handler
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  • Published : August 11, 2011
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CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
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BARBIE’S SUCCESS STORY

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THE CASE
The case examines the evolution of the Barbie doll over the years from its launch in 1959. It explores the product development strategies adopted by Mattel for Barbie and the reasons for the success of Barbie. The case also explores changes in Barbie's image along with the changes in American society. The criticism leveled against Barbie by feminists has also been described. The case also examines the challenges that Barbie could face in the future with the launch of Disney Princess.

Issues addressed Gain insights into the challenges faced by traditional playthings, such as dolls, in the Internet age.

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Question 1
Analysts observed that Barbie, the icon of American culture, reflected changes in American society. Analyze the changes in Barbie’s image over the years.

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Consumer behavior brand equity model

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Location
• • • Barbie’s Global Shift: Many branches in the USA. Manufacturing pre 1950s took place in Japan. Manufacturing post 1950s in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand.

Location

GNP per capita % annual % children aged US$ (UK=21,410) growth in GNP 10-14 who work

Comment

China Indonesia Malaysia Mexico Thailand
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750 174 3670 578 2160

6.4 4.7 4.0 0.9 5.2

12 10 3 7 9

Known internationally for its disregard for human rights. Huge economic potential. Politically unstable, losing a long term president and civil war in late 90s. Slower economic growth after rapid growth of up to 10% in late 1990s. Joined NAFTA in the late ’90s, creating a tariff-free market with the USA. No. of children working has dropped recently – government laws are now phasing it out. Minimum wage approx. £80/month.

Reasons behind Barbie’s Global Shift
Most of Mattel’s sales are in the USA. Wage costs in the USA are amongst the highest in the World. To make Barbies in the USA would reduce profits significantly. Mattel now make the bulk of their toys in China. The company have ‘Principles’ that apply to all parties that manufacture, assemble or distribute any products bearing their logo. This means that no one under the age of 16 can be employed and if local law requires a higher minimum age, it will comply. It was the first company to utilize external independent monitoring (as well as an internal monitoring program) to ensure the welfare of it’s staff.

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Question 2
Analysts attributed Barbie’s success to the Mattel’s innovative product development. They pointed out that Mattel’s product d eve l o p m e n t r e f l e c t e d changing cultural patterns in American society. Analyze the role played by product development in Barbie’s success.

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Question 3
According to analysts technological innovations a n d t h e ava i l a b i l i t y o f various other forms of entertainment were turning yo u n g g i r l s away f r o m traditional playthings such as dolls. In this scenario, discuss the future of Barbie. Do you think Barbie will be able to retain its dominance? Justify your answer. Friday 12 August 2011

The Future?
Barbie is Mattel’s biggest selling product. If the company is to survive it needs to move with current trends. These recent articles suggest that the battle may be being lost. Mattel also needs to consider more modern ways of shopping. Toys R Us and Walmart account for 33% of sales, but the company is reaching customers in new ways, including catalogue and online sales.

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Future strategy As a subsequent product strategy, it has been publicized that Mattel and Digital Domain are working together again on a new CD-ROM title to be launched next March: Barbie Cool Looks Fashion Designer CD-ROM®. Some new extensions on the Barbie...
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