Fifty years on and more than one billion Barbies sold, but is the iconic doll’s ability to earn profits fading?
Matell, the world’s largest toy maker, relies heavily on sales of Barbies and has a lot invested in her future.
The 50th birthday is an excuse for an extensive campaign to promote the doll in the face of children’s changing tastes and a recession.
Mattel’s sales in the fourth quarter of 2088 were down 11 percent.
That period includes Christmas and is traditionally the most profitable time for toymakers.
Worldwide 21 percent fewer Barbies were sold.
Operating income was down by 36 percent.
Overall Mattel is responding to hard times in toyland by making fewer product and renogotiating with retailers to boost profits and cash flow.
It is also looking to widen the Barbie brand and take it to new territories.
China is the main target. A six-story shop called House of Barbie has just opened in Shanghai, featuring a restaurant and spa and selling Barbie themed makeup, jewellery, clothes and even chocolate.