Barbie Mid Life Crises Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


Company Background

Barbie has been a fashion doll that is manufactured by the American toy manufacturing company Mattel, Inc. which was launched back in March 1959. Barbie was manufactured and created by Ruth Handler who was inspired by the German doll which was called Bild Lilli. Barbie has been the figurehead brand or the star brand for the Mattel dolls and accessories company which also includes other collectible dolls and family members too. Barbie has evolved a she most renowned and recognized toy brand which has served as the fashion statement for more than fifty years.

The company has been involved in various legal controversies where most of the cases have been based on the parody of the doll concept and the lifestyle portrayed by the company. Once Bild Lilly was acquired by the company Mattel, its production was stopped in Germany in 1964. The first Barbie that was presented for sale was available in two colors and it was wearing a white zebra striped swimsuit and a topknot ponytail to go with it. The doll was presented and portrayed by the company as the “teenage fashion model” and the clothes of the doll were manufactured by Japanese homework in Japan. In the first year of its launch, Barbie sold 350,000 pieces in the year.

Current Market Situation

The current situation of the toy industry and specifically the fashion doll are facing severe and stiff competition from various sectors. Barbie which has been most renowned and recognized brand has been facing quite rigorous competition from its counterparts. The number one competitor for Barbie has been Bratz which has been a revolution in the fashion doll industry. It has accounted sales revenue of $100 million in one year of its opening. Along with this, Bratz has been seen by the children and teenage girls as the best option for them as toys. Bratz dolls are younger, athletic; they have bigger eyes with a big head. The revolution in the industry of fashion dolls was initiated and innovated by Bratz.

Another competitor for Barbie was its own production, but was launched without the name of parent brand therefore it was also a competitor for Barbie. Along with this, Sindy doll was launched  again, which was a renowned brand in the market before the launch of Barbie. Sindy has evolved from being a traditional doll of 1980s. However, now Sindy has transformed into a rather flexible and the attitude “just like me”. All the four rivals were looking to gain the market share where the toy industry was on the verge of development and growth (Lord, 2004).

In spite of all the competition in the market, Barbie still remains as a bigger brand than My Scene. The market leadership, recognition and worth which Barbie has earned over a period of fifty years are at stake. It is facing competition from all corners of the industry. Still Barbie is trying to fight and resist against hanging up the reputation of the company which is being challenged by Bratz at different levels. However, it is important to understand that although Bratz is the number one selling brand in the market currently, but the industry analysts suspect that it will become a clownish doll in the next ten years because of its look and attire. However, Barbie is a universal doll which will survive in spite of all the odds.

Problem Statement

The problem identified in Barbie Mid Life Crisis basically explains the current market situation of the fashion doll industry. Barbie which has been a renowned brand for a long time is facing stiff competition from Bratz, My Scene and the re-launch Sindy. Therefore, Mattel is looking to re-launch Barbie globally by introducing a better range of dolls, innovative and creative ideas and a better strategy that can overcome all the competition it has been facing in the industry. More than 50 percent of the toy market share has gone to Bratz in the fashion doll industry.

SWOT Analysis


Brand Image:

The biggest strength for Barbie has been the brand name of the company. It is the most renowned name in the fashion doll industry. People recall the name Barbie once they hear  about fashion dolls. Girls around the world have a strong association with it (Kerin, 2012).

Financial Strength:

Barbie has been serving the industry for more than fifty years where it has enjoyed the largest market share in the industry. In spite of decreasing sales in the recent past, still it is the number brand in the world with a sale of two Barbie doll.

Retail Network:

The retail network of Barbie is efficient and effective. It has outlets in most countries globally along with warehouses and distribution centers located in different areas............................

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