Barbie Reboot in China -- Appealing to Tiger Moms

by Colette Moran

Barbie flopped when Mattel introduced a flagship store in Shanghai in 2009, closing up shop after only two years. But now Mattel is trying again after reexamining the market.

Mattel Inc. is making a new effort to sell Chinese on the impossibly proportioned all-American doll, with an appeal to Tiger moms who would rather have their children reading books than plugging body parts into Mr. Potato Head. New, low-price offerings include “Violin Soloist” Barbie, complete with bow and sheet music.

Mattel is targeting education-minded parents such as Luo Chongzong, who watched her 9-year-old daughter, Yang Siqi, gaze at a 369 yuan (about $61) “Fashion Design” Barbie playset during a recent visit to a Beijing Wal-Mart. “She loves those dolls, but I had to stop buying them because they distract her from her studies,” said Ms. Luo, 33 years old. “She’ll spend hours braiding her hair, dressing and undressing her,” she said.

The world’s largest toy maker by sales has even gone to the government. This week it paired leaders of China’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture with educational experts who presented research on the benefits of play in effort to boost play time in schools.

Other companies are also making readjustments, mostly by catering to the desire for educational toys. Read more here.


Associated Press

The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.