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More than a pretty face: Barbie demand helps Mattel's bottom line


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More than a pretty face: Barbie demand helps Mattel's bottom line

Mattel has reported a surprise increase in quarterly net sales; the first time it has managed that in over two years.

That was thanks to a recovery in the number of Barbie dolls being bought and rising demand for its Hot Wheels toys, particularly Star Wars models.

Mattel last year added a variety of skin tones, hairstyles and outfits to its traditionally Caucasian Barbie dolls to try to broaden the appeal.

The US toymaker has been changing its marketing and advertising strategy to position its dolls as more than a pretty face, with campaigns such as “You Can Be Anything” highlighting the potential of girls in various professional fields.

It seems to have been a commercial success with sales of Barbies rising 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, having fallen in double-digit percentages for the previous two years. And as of last week it is making the dolls in more realistic body shapes – tall, curvy and petite.

The California-based company also reported strong sales of its Hot Wheels toys, with the release of ‘Stars Wars: The Force Awakens’ film driving demand for its Star Wars-licensed toys such as ‘Jedi Starfighter Starship’ and ‘Millennium Falcon Starship’.

Sales in the Wheels category, which includes Hot Wheels toys, rose 17 percent.

The numbers

Mattel’s net sales inched up 0.3 percent to $2 billion (1.83 billion euros)in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Net income surged 43.6 percent to $215.2 million (196.93 million euros).

Advertising and promotion expenses fell 8.2 percent.

Selling and administrative costs declined 7.4 percent.

Mattel shares rose 6.5 percent in extended trading after the announcement.

The stock had fallen about 12 percent in 2015.

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