Shoppers across the globe are flocking to popular retailers such as Zara and H&M to get their hands on Barbie-themed products ahead of the release of the new Barbie film this weekend. Despite the cost-of-living pressures that have led consumers to spend less, retailers are seizing the opportunity to persuade shoppers to invest in more expensive items and boost their revenues. From hoop earrings to perfume, jumpsuits, and dresses, retailers are capitalizing on the Barbie craze by offering a wide range of products and brand tie-ups, many of which are targeted at adults. This strategy is based on the nostalgia that Barbie represents for those who played with the doll as children. Mattel, the owner of the Barbie brand, hopes that the new film will reignite the doll’s appeal and firmly embed Barbie into the minds of a new generation.
According to Jo Ashdown, managing partner at Mando-Connect, a brand partnership agency that is part of WPP, the number of brand partnerships emerging from this film is unprecedented. Zara, for example, launched its Barbie collection on Monday, featuring 17 children’s garments and accessories, including a hot-pink one-piece swimsuit, a backpack, and sneakers. However, Zara’s offering for women is much broader, with 85 items available. Even men can join in on the trend with a fuchsia suit, cowboy boots, and denim shirts inspired by Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.
Not only apparel and footwear brands like H&M, Primark, Gap, and Crocs have jumped on the Barbie bandwagon, but the craze has also extended beyond retailers. Hyatt Hotels and Hilton are now offering Barbie-themed hotel suites in cities such as Bogota, Colombia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With an abundance of merchandise available, ranging from Barbie rugs to Barbie toothbrushes, there is a concern that the brand may be overstretching itself. However, the renewed emphasis on diversity and inclusivity from Mattel, its retail partners, and the film itself, may provide enough novelty to keep consumers interested. James Zahn, editor of trade magazine The Toy Book, believes that the brand’s inclusive approach has helped it grow without oversaturating the market, stating, “Everybody can be a Barbie or a Ken.”
In conclusion, retailers worldwide are capitalizing on the release of the new Barbie film by offering a wide range of Barbie-themed products. From clothing and accessories to hotel suites, the Barbie craze shows no signs of slowing down. With a focus on diversity and inclusivity, Mattel and its partners hope to keep consumers engaged and interested in the brand. The success of this strategy remains to be seen, but the anticipation surrounding the new film suggests that Barbie’s appeal is as strong as ever.
• Reporting by Reuters