This case study will examine five questions affecting the marketing of Barbie. It will consider the environmental factors affecting Barbie, a SWOT analysis, her position and the implications of it in the BCG Matrix, her target market, and my strategy if I was product manager of the Barbie line. 1. A number of environmental factors impact Barbie. Regarding the environmental factor of competition, Barbie has two major competitors — dolls from Spin Master Ltd, “perhaps the hottest toy maker in North America” and dolls from Bratz (Zimmerman 1).
The new models of these dolls both made it to the market before her last model did.
Regarding the economic factor, the average income has gone down significantly with the downturn in the economy. So people do not have as much money for expensive toys, and this puts pressure on the doll market and results in fewer sales. Regarding the legal and regulatory environment affecting Barbie, Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, has sued a designer of her competitor Bratz and the company that produces them, MGA (1).
There has been another legal issue regarding Barbie and song lyrics; Mattel sued the band Aqua over a song about Barbie, claiming it made fun of her. The judge dismissed the case, however (4).
Technological factors affecting the Barbie market include a competitor using technology to create a doll that has more joints than Barbie, so she can be arranged into more different positions (2). Another important one is how attractive new technology like iPods, video games, and computers are to kids. Mattel has created some new products for this market, like a Barbie video game, but the popularity of those technologies is also hurting Barbie because it is drawing kids away from physical dolls (2). This is also a socio-cultural factor as the culture shifts more to be dominated by this kind of technology.
Another socio-cultural factor is the way that parents have not liked the sexuality of one of Barbie’s major competitors, the Bratz dolls (2). When Mattel tried to put out a hipper doll, however, that failed too (2). As the doll market expands internationally, too, Mattel has not always been successful at matching or selling Barbie to local cultures. Many people from other non-Western cultures want dolls that match their culture, and Barbie frequently does not fit them. I could not find any political factors that impact Barbie. 2. For this SWOT analysis of Barbie, I will identify at least one strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat.
A significant strength of Barbie is the long history of the brand, which has been in the market for more than fifty years. Because of having that much time in the market, customers are already familiar with it. Children grow up with Barbie, so when they become adults, they will think of her when they think of dolls. Another strength is that the brand now has become more than the doll and include video games and books about her as a character. So that gives the company a broader market. For weakness, Barbie is part of and promotes a certain culture.
So in cultures, either within or outside the United States, that hold different values (especially for women), she may not be as popular. For example, Barbie has been in the Saudi Arabian market for many years, but she is still not as popular as a doll that matches the local culture more, named Foulah, created by another company. For opportunities, Barbie is a worldwide brand. So there is an opportunity for the company to use that reputation to increase its market share. It could do this by making versions of the doll that match local cultures better, as in the case of Saudi Arabia.
Because Barbie is already well-known, the company would not have to do as much advertising to introduce new models of her around the world as they or other companies would to introduce a brand-new doll. One of the threats to Barbie is her major competitor, Bratz dolls. Baseline magazine reported in 2005 that Barbie was losing market share because today’s girls want a “doll bolder and brasher. ” According to them, “Worldwide sales of Bratz dolls reached $700 million last year — growing more than 45% over the previous twelve months, while sales of Barbie have stagnated” (“Barbie”).
Other competitors listed in the magazine include Janay and Friends, Girls on the Go, and Disney’s Princess line, all produced by different companies than Barbie’s. 3. I would classify Barbie as a Star in the BCG Matrix because the company is growing overall, with sales rising 9% in the fourth quarter of 2010, and Barbie sales in particular have also recently gone up, with sales up 8% in the fourth quarter of 2010 (Klayman). Overall, the toy industry also grew in 2010, up 2%, with Barbie one of the “top properties for the year based on total dollar sales” (U. S. Toy Industry… ). She has been gaining back market share again after losing it for several years to the Bratz and other brand dolls in her category of 11-inch dolls.
Mattel beat its rivals Hasbro and LeapFrog in that quarter, and Mattel CEO Robert Eckert said they had “gained market share in virtually every one of the (industry) segments,” including dolls. (Klayman) This means for my marketing strategies that the company is doing well with its current strategies. According to the BCG Matrix, Mattel should continue to prioritize and support Barbie in their marketing strategies. . The target market for Barbie in the past has been girls between 3 and 12 years of age. (Gamez) In the future, it should be the same, because the brand has been closely identified with that target market for so many years. So it would be very hard to change the image of the Barbie brand enough to appeal to other markets without losing what makes her appeal to her current target market. 5. Assuming I was the Product Manager of the line, I would make different Barbies available for different cultures in order to reinvigorate the brand.
This could take place both within the U. S. and in other countries. For the product, I would create Barbies for cultures with rising population and economic growth that do not currently match any products in the Barbie line. I would also create a wider range of products, quality- and price-wise, from more basic to more upscale Barbies for her to gain greater market share. For price, there should be a wide ranges of prices for the products, so Barbie can be available to families with a range of different incomes.
With this range of Barbies according to price, luxury, and culture, she should be able to gain broader market share domestically and internationally. For place, the product should be placed widely and internationally — in children’s stores, online, large retailers like Wal-Mart. She could also be placed in stores that are Barbie-only, where consumers can see and get all products related to her in one place. For promotion, Barbie should be advertised differently depending on the place she is in. Both domestically and internationally, the Barbies from different cultures should be marketed in areas with those cultures.
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