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Autor:   •  March 13, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,054 Words (5 Pages)  •  585 Views

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Barbara Millicent Roberts, or more popularly known to the world as "Barbie" was was introduced at the American Toy Fair in New York City in February of 1959 by Ruth and Elliot Handler, founders of Mattel Toys. Ruth originally thought of the idea while her daughter, Barbara, was playing with paper dolls. She realized that as her daughter grew older and began to imitate adult conversations and the world around her, she needed a three-dimensional representation of it as well. She shared her idea of a woman doll for children with her husband and the all-male executive team at Mattel, but they refused saying that it would be too expensive to produce and would have little appeal to the American public. In 1956, while touring in Europe, Ruth chanced upon a relatively popular "adult doll", the Lilli doll. The Lilli doll was based on a popular character appearing in a German comic strip. The adult-figured Lilli doll was exactly what Handler had in mind, so she purchased three of them. She gave one to her daughter and took the others back to Mattel. Eventually, Ruth convinced the team to try and develop this adult doll for children. Mattel acquired the rights to the Lilli doll. A new body/mold was designed, a new concept was created (innocent, all-American image), and the doll was given a new name: Barbie, after Handler's daughter, Barbara.

"The first Barbie doll wore a black-and-white "zebra-striped" swimsuit and ponytail with tightly-curled bangs. The dolls were available either as blonds or brunettes." She was introduced as a "teenage model." She had her own fashion-line of clothing specially designed by the Matell team (Charlotte Johnson). They created a wardrobe from which each child could choose an outfit to create her own personality for Barbie; therefore they had to develop fashions to coordinate with society's expectations and aspirations.

Barbie was not a success at first. During and after the New York Toy Show its sales were yet to be what Mattel expected. Most of the buyers, used to baby dolls, did not like the new adult look of Barbie. When Barbie was conceived and launched, the doll segment of the toy market was dominated by other companies (Vogue dolls and Ideal Toy &Novelty Corporation).

In order to deal with those two strong competitors, and with the issue of the adult look, Mattel commissioned a toy study by Ernest Ditcher, a famous marketing man at that time. The study included several observations of children playing with Barbies as well as follow up interviews with the children and with their parents. This became the basis for marketing Barbie to the American public.

In the early 1960's, television played an important part on how children participated in the decision to purchase the toys that they wanted. For the first time in history advertisers had wide-reaching access to the youth market. Toys were shown in commercials making it possible for children to determine exactly what they wanted. Using the guidelines determined by Ditcher's study, this was how Mattel reached its public. This served as the Introduction stage of Barbie.

During the growth stage and maturity stage of "Barbie," there were several strategies employed by Matell to sustain rapid market growth as well as to maintain its market leadership in the doll industry (the 60's to the 90's):

* Improvement of product quality and adds new product features and improved styling / Product Modification [Quality improvement, Feature improvement and style improvement] (Barbie's face has been redesigned several times in order to keep up with current fashions in make-up and hair styling and to adapt the doll to an ever-changing market. Barbie's body has not changed in proportions but it has endured several changes in the design of joints, molds and moving parts according to new production techniques and materials. The continued production of outfits by top designers in the world. The production of dolls with different skin tones as


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