The Financial Times has reported that the Barbie store in Shanghai has shut down after only two years in business. Mattel has said that the store had serve its purpose in building brand awareness in the market. Critics and analysts, however, blame the Barbie store’s downfall on the fact that Mattel didn’t adjust well enough to the market.
Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, pointed out that Chinese women tend to like “cutesy, girlish pink clothes,” not “sexy and skimpy.” He also cites Best Buy and Home Depot as other companies who did not adequately cater to consumer preferences.
The Barbie fashions were designed by Patricia Fields, who designed for characters in “Sex and the City.”
A Forbes article notes that the Chinese market also prefers to utilize its spending power on less eye-catching outfits that can be worn every day, like coats and purses, rather than trendy showy outfits pushed by the Barbie label.
Mattel made the move to China to compensate for falling sales in the United States. The store sold Asian versions of Barbie, but still had competition from local Asian doll makers, most notably the Yu-Sai Wa Wa doll, an Asian doll designed as the alternative to Mattel’s Barbie. ♦