Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie, has experienced its best quarter in six years with a rise in net sales of over 40% in Q1 2021. The restrictions due to Covid have led to a solid increase in toy sales as many children have been forced to stay at home due to social distancing measures and government restrictions.
Mattel’s strong global brand identity provides the company with a competitive advantage in most of the markets in which it operates. Mattel is able to maintain its large scale of business through its global distribution network that reaches a large customer base.
However, the company has been heavily criticized in recent years for its lack of diversity with regards to one of its most popular toys, Barbie. In the early 2000s, Barbie struggled to stay relevant as other toy companies began manufacturing dolls that showed more diversity and many parents steered their children away from a doll that had become an emblem of unrealistic beauty standards.
In response to this, Mattel has been advocating for cultural shift and diversity through its introduction of a new range of Barbie dolls launched in 2015 with 7 different skin tones, 22 different eye colors and three new body types including curvy, tall and petite. Demonstrating its commitment to diversity further, in 2020 Mattel released a new line of Barbie dolls, ranging from Barbie with rainbow hair to a range of body types, skin tones including a Barbie with vitiligo. Its Barbie Fashionistas line also includes two dolls with disabilities and Barbie in a wheelchair and with a removable prosthetic leg. The new range of Barbies join more than 170 dolls which, the company notes is aimed at showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty.
Mattel has also partnered with 9 Story Media Group and Karma’s World Entertainment for a multi-year global licensing deal for “Karma’s World,” the new CG animated series is premiering on Netflix later this year. This collaboration will provide Mattel with a competitive advantage over its rivals.
However, as the toy market becomes increasingly competitive, Mattel will have to continue to invest in making its products and ranges more diverse in a bid to increase its reach, which will in turn will help increase sales.