Barbie Buzz: Retailers Pin Hopes on Iconic Doll to Drive Consumer Spending Amid Cautious Summer

Barbie Buzz: Retailers Pin Hopes on Iconic Doll to Drive Consumer Spending Amid Cautious Summer

July 20, 2023 : Retailers are capitalizing on the upcoming release of “Barbie” from Warner Bros. Discovery by offering Barbie-themed merchandise to attract shoppers’ attention and boost sales. Over 100 brands, including Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s, Crocs, and Gap, have licensing agreements with toy maker Mattel to sell Barbie-inspired fashion, beauty, and accessories.

Bloomingdale’s, for instance, has an exclusive collection of Barbie-inspired women’s clothing and accessories for its private label, Aqua. They also use Barbie-themed window displays and special events to draw shoppers into their stores.

Retailers are using the splash of hot pink and the nostalgic appeal of Barbie to entice consumers amid a challenging retail environment. Rising inflation and the resumption of student loan payments put pressure on discretionary spending, causing companies like Macy’s, Target, and Coach parent Tapestry to report weaker sales of nonessential items and big-ticket products.

Aldo’s Chief Brand and Product Officer, Daianara Grullon Amalfitano, believes that incorporating sparkle and hot pink can help break shoppers out of a budget-focused mindset and encourage impulse buying. Aldo’s Barbie collection, which includes crossbody bags and pumps, sold out quickly, demonstrating the demand for such products.

Retailers hope that Barbie’s popularity and nostalgia will help boost sales of nonessential items, which have recently declined. Brands use collaborations and unique merchandise, like the Barbie-inspired collections, to attract customers and drive sales. The success of these efforts will play a crucial role as retailers gear up for the holiday season.
Barbie’s appeal is not only in its recognition and nostalgia but also in its ability to cut across various product categories, from clothing to home goods and makeup. Retailers believe the brand’s optimistic and playful aesthetic can resonate with shoppers looking for a break from the complexities of the post-Covid world.

While some retailers, like Coach, have found success with collaborations, they are also cautious about choosing partnerships that align with their long-term sustainability goals. They seek to attract new audiences and retain customers beyond the immediate collaboration’s excitement.
Overall, the Barbie-inspired merchandise serves as a tool for retailers to entice shoppers, especially as they navigate the current economic challenges and seek to maintain shopper engagement even after the Barbie merchandise is no longer available.