Mattel Diversifies: 33 New Versions of Barbie

If you can’t win with a single version of a product, diversifying may be the answer. Last month, Mattel unveiled a new line of Barbies. No longer will children have to look at the dolls and wonder why they don’t look like anyone they know.

The dolls try to be representative of our diverse population. They took about two years to produce from start to finish, and come in a variety of hair styles and skin tones.

Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler, once said, “my whole philosophy behind Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything that she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” Now, children have choices! They may now see in the Barbie brand a symbol of their mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers or cousins.

Expanding the Barbie look may be a sociocultural response coupled with ongoing efforts that Mattel has made to restore sales. And perhaps, it’s worked. The company reported an increase in net sales of 7% in the last quarter of 2015.

However, Mattel wasn’t the first to the table with a more realistic doll. An artist and researcher, Nikolay Lamm produced doll with more realistic measurements in 2014.  See some school- aged children respond to the realistic doll in the video below:

Whether it’s Lammily or Barbie, having non-digital toys that may mirror the role models children have in everyday life may help them to feel more comfortable in their world.


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