Innovation and Barbie Essay

1. Why has Barbie been so successful?
According to Professor Paul Burns, The answer lies in innovative marketing and product extension. Barbie’s appealing design, high quality manufacturing, and detailed features are what distinguishes this doll from all the others and has lead Barbie to thrive for more than half a century. Another important business strategy for Barbie has been the bringing in of accessories for each Barbie doll. Every year, different Barbie dolls are introduced, with new outfits keeping her trendy and always “in style”. Allowing costumers to create their own look with whatever most suits them. The key business strategy for the creators of Barbie was the introduction of accessories. These accessories add value of the product along with improving the products image. The accessories provide even more ways of playing with the doll and therefore add value to the whole company. This ability to adapt to change and time, has been a key factor of success for Barbie. Without this Ability to adapt a company will no longer succeed over an extended period.

2. Barbie is hardly a high-tech product, but has Mattel been innovative in how they have developed the product and extended its life cycle?

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Mattel has continuously strived to be innovative and extended Barbie’s life cycle. Mattel has been constantly working on the actualization of the doll. And by combining technology and innovative designs to the product, Mattel has been able to keep Barbie’s status in the market for more than 40 years.

“Of course, keeping close to customers is critical for current success. But long-term growth and profit depend upon a very different managerial formula. Quite simply, disruptive technologies are often the catalysts for emerging markets. And finding new markets and exploiting them is crucial if a company is to enjoy continued growth well into the future.”

Sanders, Elisabeth B. 1992.“Converging perspectives: Product development research for the 1990’s.” Design Management Journal. Fall 1992. p.49-54. US

One example of how Mattel became innovative in how they develop their products, is the launch of their new website, Nowadays, A great percentage of shopping is done online. Mattel’s website ( offers products which can be bought exclusively through the Internet. This site is mainly offered for costumers to become of aware of Mattel’s release of new products and Barbie collections.

3. What are the Lessons from product innovation?
A very important lesson in product innovation is understanding the target audience. There is nothing more important than understanding which market group you are creating your product for. Taking the time to step back and strategically think about what your targeted market is interested in and how to deliver what they want into a product, is key. For Mattel, a great lesson from product innovation could be the use of technology in their products. Mattel has been trying to integrate technologically advanced products for the past couple years. Although I do not agree with their way they have integrated it, I believe that there attempt to incorporate technology is correct and that they should simply reconsider their strategy’s and their approach towards creating more technologically innovated products.

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