Mattel’s dream marketing strategy: it’s fantastic, pink and drastic!

2 minute read

Lauren Peters

It’s a Barbie World, and we’re just living in it! But what can we as marketers learn from the Barbie movie? In this blog, Account Manager Lauren discusses Mattel’s change in strategic direction and what this means for brands looking to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced environment.

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, adapting to change is crucial for any brand striving to maintain its prominence, and if Mattel’s Barbie has done anything recently it’s certainly been noticed! In fact, it’s been pretty impossible to avoid it, but the method behind the marketing madness is something worth unpacking.

As sales declined year on year between 2013-2018, parent company Mattel decided to take a leap of faith, shifting its strategic marketing direction, targeting not only the end user of their products but also focusing on parents, and parents-to-be with the release of Barbie (2023).  This is clear, not only through the movie itself but with the merchandising and PR strategies implemented in the build-up and after the release. Collaborations with brands such as Asos, Airbnb, Bumble and even an insurance company it’s clear girls aged 3-11 weren’t the primary audience of this $100million campaign.

So, what can we as marketers learn from this?

Consider the target audience: who has purchasing power?

One of the most significant takeaways from Barbie’s strategic shift is the importance of understanding your target audience beyond just the end user. Mattel recognized that parents play a pivotal role in shaping children’s preferences, and this new strategy acknowledges their influence. This approach reminds us that to effectively market a product, we must consider not only the immediate consumer but also those who hold the keys to the purchase.

Playing the Long Game: Building a Timeless Brand

Barbie’s transformation also underscores the value of playing the long game in the world of branding. For decades, Barbie has maintained a strong presence in the market, but even timeless brands need to adapt to changing dynamics. Mattel’s decision to evolve the brand’s image demonstrates their commitment to staying relevant across generations. This serves as a reminder that enduring brands are the ones that continually reinvent themselves while staying true to their core values. Just as Barbie has stood the test of time, so can other brands by embracing change while preserving their essence.

Bravery and Strategy: A Winning Combination

A courageous decision backed by a well-thought-out strategy can yield remarkable results. Barbie’s new direction showcases the power of bravery when accompanied by strategic planning. This offers marketers an important lesson: calculated bravery, supported by research and analysis, can be a powerful catalyst for success.

In conclusion, Barbie’s change in strategic marketing direction serves as a beacon of inspiration for brands facing declining sales and a need for reinvention. The willingness to pivot, the dedication to the long game, and the synergy of bravery and strategy have positioned Barbie on a path to renewed relevance.

So, let Barbie’s journey remind us that in the realm of branding, evolution isn’t just a necessity; it’s the key to capturing hearts, minds, and generations.

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