The release of the highly-anticipated Barbie film has sparked a shopping frenzy as consumers rush to get their hands on Barbie-themed products such as hoop earrings, perfume, jumpsuits, and dresses. Retailers worldwide are seizing the opportunity to cash in on the renewed popularity of the iconic plastic doll and her glitzy, hot pink universe adorned with sequins.
Amid a cost of living squeeze, retailers are eager to entice customers to splurge on more luxurious items, aiming to boost their revenues. The extensive range of products and brand collaborations, many tailored to adult consumers, taps into the nostalgia that Barbie holds for those who fondly played with the doll during their childhood.
Mattel, the brand’s owner, is hopeful that the Barbie movie will reignite the doll’s nostalgic charm while captivating a whole new generation of fans.
Jo Ashdown, managing partner at Mando-Connect, a brand partnership agency under WPP, expressed astonishment at the sheer number of brand partnerships emerging from the film. Mattel anticipates that the movie will significantly impact global Barbie doll sales, which experienced a dip last year after record growth during the pandemic.
Zara’s Barbie collection, launched on Monday, includes 17 children’s garments and accessories like a hot-pink one-piece swimsuit, backpack, and sneakers. However, the collection for women is much broader, comprising 85 items.
Men can also partake in the Barbie craze with offerings like a fuchsia suit or cowboy boots and denim shirts, inspired by Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.
The demand for Barbie merchandise is soaring, with items like Zara’s Barbie eau de parfum, hoop earrings, and pink cropped hoodie quickly selling out on the brand’s UK site. Similarly, a fuchsia double-breasted suit blazer for men, priced at £89.99 ($116.04), flew off the shelves.
Other retailers, such as Gap and Crocs, have also witnessed a surge in sales of Barbie-themed products. A Barbie hoodie for women was available only in size XXS online, and Barbie Crocs priced at $59.99, $10 more than regular Crocs, quickly sold out on the Crocs website. Luggage brand Beis saw a waiting list for all three sizes of suitcases in a Barbie pink, commanding a premium compared to its usual color range.
Even big-box retailers like Walmart are joining the Barbie frenzy, offering dolls in various skin tones and hairstyles to collectors at a price of $45.
The Barbie craze extends beyond retail, with Hyatt Hotels and Hilton offering Barbie-themed hotel suites in cities such as Bogota, Colombia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
While the overwhelming amount of merchandise raises concerns of brand overstretching, Mattel, retail partners, and the film itself are placing renewed emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, which may keep consumers engaged and interested.
James Zahn, editor of the trade magazine The Toy Book, remarked that the concept of “Everybody can be a Barbie or a Ken” has significantly contributed to the brand’s growth without oversaturation.
The Barbie movie craze is not just a blast from the past; it’s a glittering phenomenon captivating hearts across generations and continents.