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Why It Failed: House of Barbie Shanghai - GWU Spring 2013

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In 2009, Mattel opened Barbie's first flagship store, House of Barbie, in Shanghai, China. Known as the ultimate Barbie dream house, the store failed to reach expectations and closed after just two years.

Why It Failed: House of Barbie Shanghai - GWU Spring 2013

  1. 1. WHY IT FAILED House of Barbie Shanghai Hunter Thomas Jordan Liedholm April 29, 2013
  2. 2. agenda purpose + background research methodology about Mattel, Inc. meet Barbie understanding China + Shanghai the new dream house what went wrong + our thoughts final take
  3. 3. In 2009, Mattel opened Barbie’s first flagship store, House of Barbie, in Shanghai, China. Known as the ultimate Barbie dream house, the store failed to reach expectations and closed after two years.
  4. 4. research methodology project plan, strategy + goals brand perception + store experience Chinese + Shanghaies consumer market Mattel’s annual reports, earnings call transcripts, press releases and other public records News articles, social media, blogs and online reviews Market research, financial studies, and economic data
  5. 5. $5.92 billion net sales $3.2 billion int’l net sales “Creating the World’s Premiere Toy Brands – Today and Tomorrow” Mattel’s Corporate Vision, 2008 10,000+ SKUs sell products in 150 countries With U.S. sales down, Mattel looked internationally for growth.
  6. 6. Nearly 90% of American girls have called Barbie their friend. Mattel looked to China for growth and opportunity with Barbie. top fashion doll 30% Mattel’s revenue “Barbie represents fashion, aspiration, and cultural relevance.” Description of Barbie, by Mattel over 1 billion sold worldwide 50th anniversary celebration
  7. 7. Shanghai: China’s “test” market As the “highly urbanized, driver of the Chinese economy” many brands look to Shanghai for entry. Shanghai represents 11.3% of China’s GDP and is viewed as the “most innovative and cosmopolitan [city], setting trends in fashion and lifestyles.” Mattel’s research showed classic Barbie tested better than her Chinese counterpart Ling.
  8. 8. Opened on March 6, 2009, House of Barbie Shanghai served as the first flagship store. Located on Huaihai Road, Shanghai’s premiere luxury shopping street. The store intended to launch Barbie as a lifestyle brand for Chinese girls and women. It was the first, and only, all-doll store in China. 36,000 sq. ft.six floors $43 million
  9. 9. dolls house of barbie spa cafe runway pink fashion shopping dream luxury shanghai lifestyle brand experience china photos girls flagship Description of House of Barbie, by Mattel. “Unapologetically all Barbie”
  10. 10. After less than two years, House of Barbie closed.
  11. 11. what went wrong brand perception1 store experience2
  12. 12. brand perception Barbie was not a cultural icon in China—she couldn’t be a lifestyle. ‘Barbie pink’ is not an immediate association of the Barbie brand.
  13. 13. Women felt clothing was over-priced and poorly made, they wanted “cute, not sexy.” Hauihai Road includes the top luxury fashion brands, Barbie wasn’t one of them. brand perception
  14. 14. Hello Kitty, the ultimate ‘cute’ lifestyle brand and Yue-Sai are admired in China and the world. Knock-offs and alternative brands were abundant and cheap. Educated, high-income Shanghaies parents preferred spending on tutoring or books than buying dolls and clothes. brand perception
  15. 15. Six floors of pink and Barbie overwhelmed consumers. No storefront signage made the store easy to miss. Location was difficult to access, far from metro and core stores. store experience
  16. 16. Chinese love face care, but the Spa did not make guests feel relaxed. Too many amenities confused and overwhelmed consumers. At night, the restaurant became a karaoke bar and lounge called, “The Pink Club.” store experience
  17. 17. Activities were based in English, not Mandarin; the language spoken by young girls. As a result, activities like the Fashion Runway and Design Center were unable to engage guests. store experience
  18. 18. House of Barbie was the first, and only, doll store in China. The store was modeled after American Girl in the U.S. The Chinese were not ready for “all Barbie.” Ultimately, they were overwhelmed and uninterested. in review
  19. 19. final take In China, Barbie was not a cultural icon: she couldn’t be a lifestyle. The store was overwhelming and isolated Barbie’s reach to selective, affluent consumers. As global luxury consumers, Chinese expect a localized shopping experience, and demand a global brand identity. Chinese consumers are online, social, and aware of the global presence of brands.
  20. 20. …next time Use multimedia and co-marketing to associate Barbie with Chinese cultural icons. Don’t neglect the merchandise; too many activities distract the consumer. Storefront signage is critical, make it big. Base activities in Mandarin so girls can easily participate and understand. Pursue “shop-in-a-shop” mall entry to increase brand equity and awareness. Present Barbie as an aspirational brand to inspire Chinese girls.
  21. 21. So, what would you have done? Hunter Thomas Jordan Liedholm April 29, 2013
  22. 22. appendix
  23. 23. House of Barbie Floor Plan Ground/First Floor Second Floor
  24. 24. Third Floor Fourth Floor House of Barbie Floor Plan
  25. 25. Fifth Floor Sixth Floor House of Barbie Floor Plan