There was little Christmas cheer for poor old Barbie this year – a bitter pill to swallow for the iconic fashion doll who turned 50 in 2009.
Despite a mid life makeover, it is reported that annual sales are down in excess of 25%, a decline which one might argue reflects the perennial ‘age compression’ problem faced by all toy brands as kids gravitate towards video gaming at an ever younger age. However other classic brands have fared pretty well during this years recession with the likes of LEGO up 20% and Sylvanian Families up 40%, possibly reflecting a parental predisposition for nostalgic brands that provide comfort during such difficult and volatile times.
Successful toy brands continue to be those that have a clear set of values coupled with an ongoing investment in genuine innovation that ensures the refreshment of the experience for kids whilst providing traditional branded re-assurance for parents and grand-parents. The new ‘Monopoly City’ is a great example and was one of the top 5 sellers for the year.
Perhaps Barbie needs much more than a cosmetic make over if it is to re-engage with this new generation of kids, especially with the 2009 launch of Moxie Girlz. MGA Entertainment are behind these new dolls adding to their Bratz line which was launched in 2001, and which are still being contested legally by Mattel in the US. In recent weeks though MGA won its appeal to retain the rights to sell Bratz and so 2010 is set to be another challenging year for Mattel’s flagship girl brand.