Is Barbie being Frozen out? Doll sales plummet as kids favor Disney’s Elsa and American Girl
- Experts say Barbie doesn't have a rich enough story line to engage kids as much as competing dolls
Despite efforts to stay relevant, Barbie's popularity is on the decline: Mattel has reported a 15 per cent drop in sales for the blonde doll in the latest quarter.
However, the company saw a 6 per cent increase in sales of its American Girl line and also found success with toys associated with Disney's Frozen.
While Mattel has attempted to keep the brand up to date with the recent launch of Entrepreneur Barbie - a tech-savvy doll that comes armed with a tiny smartphone and tablet, and even boasts a LinkedIn profile - experts say that Barbie doesn't have a strong enough narrative to capture kids' imaginations.
Image problem: Barbie's sales have declined due to competitors with more engaging story lines
American Girl, for example, features 'historical character' dolls accompanied by books that tell of the characters' adventures.
Jim Silver, editor of TTPM.com (formerly Time to Play Magazine), says that competitors such as Mattel's Monster High dolls do a better job of engaging children with more complex story lines.
Pure heroine: Elsa, from Disney's beloved animated hit Frozen, has become an increasingly popular doll
A doll's life: American Girl characters, such as Josefina (pictured), feature engaging backstories
He adds: 'Kids are growing up fast, and lines like Monster High are much edgier than Barbie. Girls 3 to 9 used to play with Barbie. Now it’s down to girls 3 to 6. The kids have grown up faster. They’re on iPads. Their fashion is different.'
And having turned 55 years old this year, Barbie may have a harder time being viewed as edgy by children whose parents grew up with the doll.
Ghoul talk: Monster High dolls are seen as 'edgier' than Barbie, and more appealing to older children
'Barbie is a very nice girl, very pretty, very clean cut, very Caucasian. But girls very often are not as nice as their mothers would want them to be,' Lutz Muller, owner of toy intelligence firm Klosters Trading Corp. in Williston Hills, Vermont, told Canada's Financial Post, adding: 'What girls are waiting for is another icon, one which is different from the idealized Barbie … which the mothers and grandmothers of current girls played with.'
And, of course, it's difficult to compete with Elsa, the heroine of Disney's wildly popular hit Frozen, which has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time since its 2013 release.
'We’re working very hard to literally chase demand' for dolls based on Frozen characters, Mattel CEO Brian Stockton told the New York Post. 'It gets greater and greater every week.'
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