Barbie, the iconic plastic doll with the proportions of a desiccated hot dog, is having a rough time staying culturally relevant. Mattel’s latest sales figures paint a grim picture for the 55-year-old polymath, whose career has included stints as an aerobics instructor, dentist, POTUS, and mermaid. She even has her own LinkedIn profile.
On Sunday, though, the New York Daily News reported that Barbie sales are down 15%, and continue to sink into the red for the eight consecutive quarter.
So who is Barbie losing out to in the hearts and minds of little girls? (Or more likely, their parents?) According to the Daily News, it’s monsters.
Little girls are dropping the dull doll in favor of newer, edgier competitors like Monster High, Lalaloopsy, American Girl, and the latest Disney Princesses. …
“With Monster High, you have Draculaura, Lagoona Blue, Clawdia Wolf, and they keep developing more characters and more backstories,” says toy industry expert Jim Silver, editor of TTPM.com (formerly Time to Play magazine). “Barbie is a superstar, but she’s just one character.”
And so it appears that, in 2014, adhering to conventional standards of beauty for a plaything puts Mattel between a rock and a hard place. (FWIW: Mattel owns the Monster High brand, too, so it’s not exactly treading water here.) On one hand, Barbie is Barbie, with a five-decades-long legacy to uphold and a Malibu dream house mortgage to pay. On the other, kids seem to want an imaginary best friend that they can identify with (even if it’s a vaguely goth Frankenstein mutated with a Bratz doll), and in some cases one that looks a little more like them.