World news – The sophisticated data strategy that drives Barbie’s digital growth


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Barbie was busy retrofitting her media plans to meet the increasing online demand for his dolls. The Drum catches up with top marketer Lisa McKnight, who tells us how a smart data strategy combined with flexibility helps the sales pop.

In February, Barbie owner Mattel achieved stronger sales than expected after the parents bought Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars for the holidays. Sales rose 10% to $ 1.6 billion.

Physical toy sales have been buoyant over the past 12 months as parents try to keep tiny heads and hands busy in lockdown. At the forefront of Mattel’s growth was doll sales, which increased 9% in 2020. Obviously, with stores closed, e-commerce played a huge role in bringing Barbies to kids, with Mattel’s online sales growing more than 40% in 2020.

« We did last year experienced a huge migration to e-commerce, accelerating a trend that has already started, « said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global puppet manager at Mattel, at The Drum’s ongoing Digital Transformation Festival.

She says you Marketing team had to make sure they were in « lock step » with outside retail partners like Amazon throughout the pandemic to ensure they had the right assets and inventory to keep Barbie moving. There was also a bigger shift, however: a retooling of the doll’s data and demand strategy that helped drive sales across both third-party and proprietary channels.

Last summer, Barbie saw an increase in looking for its flagship product Dreamhouse. First introduced in 1962 (similar to Barbie), the Dreamhouse has evolved over the years but is still high on Christmas lists. The first iteration was a humble block of cardboard, while it was upgraded in the 80s and 90s with floral wallpapers and a luxury elevator to get Barbie from floor to floor. Now the Dreamhouse has a home office, a second floor pool with a slide, and a plug and play design that allows for interactive online gaming.

« This is an item that is usually marketed and in the Holiday Season has its highest sales because it is an expensive premium item that is often bought as a big gift.  » Since the summer camp and birthday parties have been canceled since mid-2020, parents have tried to spend a little more on gifts and presents that have a lot of play value. “

In response, the Barbie marketing team launched the Dreamhouse Marketing Blitz sooner than they normally would. The result resulted in « a ton » of online sales. The product topped the list of best-selling toys in the US and ended the year one sale per minute worldwide.

Barbie has spent the past four years reconfiguring herself for girls and boys alike by going through marketing and making their doll ranges more racially, disabled, and gender-specific has created a more functional place in children’s lives.

Barbie has moved with the kids who went online. Prior to the pandemic, PwC found that children around the world are increasingly consuming their media on desktop, mobile and tablet devices instead of televisions, pushing the children’s digital advertising market to $ 1.7 billion by 2021.

Amid Covid-19 bans and home orders, the kid’s move towards digital has become even more apparent, and Barbie has focused on producing content that is both educational and fun to appeal to a young audience. It has worked closely with partners like YouTube to reach out to young girls via vlogging and how-to content, and to bring Q&As and events on Instagram and Facebook to connect with parents.

Mattel leads every year conducts media mix analysis to manage the complexities of planning and buying in an ever-changing market, says McKnight. This also gives Barbie data on what drives short-term sales versus long-term brand affinity.

« There’s so much fragmentation, not just a linear path to engagement, so understanding what levers we’re pulling and what was really helpful deliver them for us. « 

The next digital frontier for Barbie is virtual testing and learning events. Before the lockdown, the brand had plans to host its first You Can Be Anything festival in LA. The all-day event, inspired by the brand’s mission to empower young women through play, should include speeches by inspiring female role models, interactive workshops, hands-on activities, and more.

Of course, Covid-19 restrictions have overridden this set, but the brand has moved some of the content online with a YouTube and Facebook series focusing on the same topics.

“It’s a good test to see how we get our audience into these be able to integrate virtual space. We all know that the digital landscape allows us to have greater reach than a physical event. “

McKnight spoke at the Drum Digital Transformation Festival, a global online event with expert knowledge and ideas designed to help marketers accelerate their digital strategies. The Drum’s full interview with McKnight can be found below.

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