MARKETING STRATEGY FOR BARBIE DOLLS
Marketing Strategy for Barbie
SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats it is a technique used to determine the appropriate use in different management activities and operations, it is particularly appropriate to utilise the technique in the early parts of marketing and strategic planning (, 2000).
Strengths- Mattel Toys, specifically the brand Barbie are; the company is in good financial position having dominated the toy industry over the years. Barbie has been successful and well-loved not just by girls and females from the United States but also from all over the world. Mattel Toys have built its core business with the segment and demographic trend; in the case of Barbie they created dolls specifically for collectors. For more than 40 years in the business, the company have had good relationship with its suppliers, thus the quality of the products remain excellent. The brand Barbie has diversified in to different types, from dolls, to accessories such as doll houses, to even movies, clothes and video games. The top management of the brand Barbie have reorganised in order to suit the needs of the consumers particularly the girls. The brand is very popular all over the world. The retail network of Barbie dolls is very good because stores from various parts of the world carry the brand. And lastly, the company employed the low cost sourcing strategy wherein the company closed manufacturing plants that have highs costs and shift to lower cost countries such as China.
Weaknesses- if the company has strengths it also has its share of weaknesses and it include; the net income of Mattel Toys have significantly dropped in recent years. The products of the Barbie lines are not strong enough to dominate the market share. The top management are conservative and not assertive enough to respond to the rivalry brought by new brands in the market. The old fashion style of Barbie does not suit to the changing trends and tastes of kids. The Barbie dolls are less focused on trendy designs for different age groups. In the development of products in the Barbie line is complicated and takes long period of time. The changes in the organisation and management is frequent, thus the process of product development hampers. The financial planning is too conservative wherein the cash flow level is too high. For more than 40 years in the business, the Barbie line still does not have its own retail stores. The wrong management strategies of top manager recently have contributed to the decline of the market share and sales and the company is less sensitive to corporate intelligence.
Opportunities- even though the sales and market share of Barbie dolls have declined there is still vast opportunities fro the company in order to regain its dominance in the toy industry. The opportunities include the expected growth of the European market will open opportunities for sales of Barbie dolls. Most of the parents nowadays regardless of status and nation are willing to spend their money on toys for their children. The economy of the world is recovering after various financial crises. The status of the exchange rates of different monetary units is favourable to the company. The purchasing power of countries from Western Europe is very strong. The rapid growth of China’s economy is also a potential market for Barbie dolls.
In order for the opportunities to materialise the following strategies must be made by the Barbie line of Mattel Toys:
Strength- Opportunity Strategies- the company have shifted its production to low cost countries therefore they must develop a new brand of doll to countries such as Indonesia and India. The distribution network of Barbie must be expanded all over Europe, Asia and China. The company must develop brands for trendy products. Mattel Toys must diversify the business and expand and build famous brands over products such as Barbie. And have a close partnership with the suppliers in order to have continuous inspiration and technology sharing.
Weakness-Opportunity Strategy- since Barbie does not have its own retail stores, they must build their own retail stores to showcase all the Barbie dolls in order to increase the competitiveness of the product. The top managers must give analysis and focus on the changing trends of the market in various age groups. The management must be open-minded on the changing trends of the business and must have a quick response to the changes to facilitate the growth of the business. The marketing of Barbie must be reorganised and the development must be moved to Asia to expedite the quick response in products. Continue to strengthen the Barbie lines in the US and have an aggressive marketing strategy of the dolls in Western Europe and China. And strengthen the product design in girl lines.
Threats- with different types of products vying for the attention of the consumers and more players entering the business, there would be more threats on the business which include strong rivalry in doll lines particularly the Barbie and Bratz dolls. The high prices of crude oil increase the cost of materials. The increased labour costs in China. The dropped of sales in girl lines due to competition with other products. Powerful retailers that have the ability to limit the products of Barbie thus lowering the sales and shares in the market. The tastes of the consumers changed in dolls needs. The additional frequency of tight testing requirement from Europe is also a threat to the sales of Barbie dolls because it limits the choices in the designs of toys and accessories to be used.
Identifying the threats in the business is important because through it we can determine the possible strategies to counter the threats and these are:
Strength-Threats Strategies- in order to decrease the cost of production the company must shift the resources on growth Asian Countries particularly China and West Europe. To be at the edge of the competition the company must continue to develop new products to cover more consumers. The Barbie lines must be strengthening to compete with the rival. The relationship to the retailers must also be maintained in good position in order for them to understand the pricing and strategies of the product and benchmark testing requirement in the toy industry to use into the Barbie lines to give more flexibility in the toy design.
Weakness-Threats Strategies- the Barbie products have weakened in terms of markets share and sales and in order to regain it back, Mattel must create Barbie products that are strong enough to withstand the competition. Focus on the US and European Market at the same time expands in other countries. The design of the dolls, as well as, the marketing must have good sense in order to understand the needs of the consumers. Give emphasis on the attraction of products to increase the competitiveness. Have more sensitivity of the data in corporate intelligence systems for proper internal usage. Enhance the performance of Barbie dolls at the retail store to gain more confidence in both the retailers and the consumers and strategies must be address on the product needs of the customers and licensing partners.
Marketing Strategy of Barbie Dolls
Barbie doll is the most famous doll in the world for over forty years. Little girls have grown up playing Barbie dolls and have even pass the love of Barbie dolls to their children. Almost every girl in this world have touched or played a Barbie doll at some point in their lives. Barbie is a famous brand from the United States which was launched on the year 1959. Barbie was created by Ruth and Elliot Handler the persons behind Mattel Toys, the idea behind Barbie came from their daughter Barbara, upon seeing their daughter play with paper dolls the couple have comprehended completely the idea that creating a 3D doll that represents a woman would be a good toy (, 2007).
Ever since the product was launched in the market Barbie has faced a number of criticisms. One of the usual criticisms involving Barbie is that the doll promotes a false concept of a real body which could contributes to the development of eating disorders among young girls and females. But despite of the criticisms Barbie received and continues to receive it became the leading brand of dolls for almost 40 years. However, Barbie is not the only doll that dominates the market today. In the year 2006 the sales of the doll have fell to 8 per cent and the worldwide sales of Barbie have tumbled recently due to competition from Bratz dolls and the increasing demands of electronic toys that serve as a competition for Mattel.
Barbie dolls no longer dominates the doll industry with the entrance of Bratz dolls and other dolls in the market, the sales and market share of Barbie dolls decreases and with the assertive marketing strategies of other companies, the possibility of taking over the market share is inevitable if Mattel Toys continues to become weak on its marketing strategy. The objectives of the marketing strategy are:
- To identify the appropriate marketing strategy for different age groups.
- To develop new products that will suit the needs of the consumers.
- To ensure that the Barbie products will be ahead in terms of market share and sales all over the world.
To develop an efficient marketing strategy utilisation of marketing mix in order to analyse the possible ways in which Barbie dolls could regain their status in the market. Marketing mix is defined by Philip Kotler wherein it refers to the four Ps in the market and these are the Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Place includes the activities involved in the distribution of products, promotion includes advertising and selling of the goods, product involves the research and development, labelling, packaging and branding of the products and price involves the discounts, prices and credits of the products ( and , 1990).
Product- just as mentioned earlier the products include research and development, packaging and labelling. The Bratz doll was able to capture the attention girls particularly between the ages of 9 to 11 because of its popular dressing, the dolls have different characters to choose from and each doll projects a different image. In addition, the designs of the product which are the accessories and dresses are more up-to-date and funkier therefore little girls prefer having Bratz dolls. Moreover, more girls prefer Bratz dolls because of the different characteristics and images, unlike Barbie who only has one look. In order to address the changing needs of girls Barbie released Diva Starz and Flavas, however both products have unfavourable outcomes. According to a survey by Funosophy 57% of girls between the ages of 6-8 likes Bratz, 44% of girls ages between 9-11 also prefers Bratz. Among the dolls out in the market the most popular is Bratz with 39%, followed by My Scene 31%, Swan Lake Barbie 29% and Flavas 17%. 33% of girls ages 6-8 says their favourite dolls are Swan Lake and Bratz and 40% of girls ages 9-11 says Bratz is their favourite doll. In terms of favourite dolls Bratz dominate with 32% followed by Swan Lake 23%, My Scene Barbie 19% and Flavas 12%.
The survey clearly shows that Bratz is the favourite of girls. Mattel toys must thoroughly research and develop the trends in order to compete with the popularity of the Bratz dolls. Barbie dolls must have funkier clothes and accessories in order to attract more kids. In addition, Mattel must develop new characters, the company have already created Ken and Kelly, therefore an addition to the dolls would be a good idea since more girls nowadays prefer a more diverse choice of dolls to choose from and not just one character.
In order to gain a bigger share in the world market Mattel must conduct a thorough research and development in countries in Western Europe because the purchasing power of people in these countries are high and in India and China since these countries have huge populations and could be a possible excellent market.
The packaging also affects the sales of the products, even though Barbie is already an established brand, the packaging of Bratz dolls is more attractive compare to the Barbie dolls, and therefore kids will most likely choose it.
Price- compare to commodities the prices in toys are only secondary to the consumers. On the other hand it also plays an important role in the sales and shares of the product in the market. In the case of Barbie it dominates the doll industry for more than 40 years and several competitions was unable to withstand the popularity of Barbie dolls however the entrance of Bratz, it became a threat to Barbie dolls. Although, the price is only secondary to consumers of dolls, they still make sure that they get the appropriate value for their products. The price of Bratz dolls is based upon the prices of Barbie dolls however because the product offers more variety children still choose it over Barbie dolls. In order to compete with the market share Mattel must create Barbie dolls that are cheaper but give the same value and the company can do that by switching production to low cost countries such as India and China.
Place- as mentioned earlier, Barbie dolls do not have its own store and therefore relies on the retailers. Having an own retail store will definitely generate more sales and market share because all of the designs and styles of Barbie dolls are displayed and there are more choices to choose from unlike in retail stores wherein the shelf space is limited. By having an own retail store of Barbie the girls will be more aware on the latest products and designs of Barbie. Aside from girls there are adult collectors of Barbie therefore through the store their needs would be catered. Retail stores must be placed in the United States as the main market and Western Europe and in China.
Promotion- promotion is an important aspect in marketing the product because the company distributes the information regarding new products, product lines, brand and company. Different forms of promotion are employed by businesses such as advertising, sales promotion, publicity, tradeshows and many more. Through promotion of products, the company is able to identify their target markets, the promotion of the products have a huge impact on the sales and revenues of the products, an ineffective promotion will produce unpleasant results, therefore the promotional strategy of the company can be either its strength or weakness, it also offers doors for opportunities to improve products through customer feedback. In the case of Barbie dolls in order to increase its sales they must employ aggressive advertising since girls are influenced on what they see on television and if the latest products of Barbie are advertised on television the children will most likely ask for their parents to buy the doll.
The main reasons why there is a fall on the sales of Barbie is the conflict within the company that affects the management of the company. The idea of change is foreign to Mattel and the company is too confident on their status on the market. However, in order to dominate the sales, shares, as well as, the hearts of little girls all over the world, the management of Mattel must settle the conflict. Being more open to changes won’t hurt a business, on the other hand, being too confident will surely cause the fall of sales of a business.