Exclusive: All dolled up – Mattel on the Dolls category

Published on: 10th May 2021

Kelly Philp tells Toy World what Mattel considers to the biggest opportunities in the Dolls category, and talks new additions and expansions.

Mattel is expanding its presence in the Dolls category for 2021, with the July launch of new fantasy-themed large doll, My Garden Baby, additions to its licensed doll ranges including Spirit and Harry Potter, and expansions to Polly Pocket and Barbie.

Kelly Philp, UK marketing director, told us that Dolls are very much at the heart of the Mattel business, as demonstrated by the past three years of innovative product development and range expansion. “This is particularly noticeable within Mattel’s standout fashion doll brand Barbie,” she explained. “The relaunch and revitalisation of nostalgic 90s favourite Polly Pocket, meanwhile, has resulted in year on year double digit growth for this best-selling range of small dolls and collectible compacts. As summer 2021 approaches, the company has its sights on continuing to increase its presence across the entire Dolls category.”

Both Mattel’s heritage doll brands and own IPs are to be complemented by new partnerships with licensors such as NBC Universal, which has seen horse play introduced to Mattel’s doll portfolio, as well as existing partnerships with the likes of Harry Potter licensor Warner Bros. The Hello Kitty range, which launched earlier this year, is a heritage brand that offers the company points of difference in terms of looks and appeal and moves Mattel further into the collectible dolls arena.

Marking the next stage in its expansion strategy, this year sees Mattel launch new large nurturing doll, My Garden Baby. While the Dolls category itself remains somewhat static, the growth of Mattel’s own dolls portfolio means the timing is optimal for what the company is calling an exciting new entrant into this market. With My Garden Baby joining Barbie, Spirit, Harry Potter, Polly Pocket and Hello Kitty, Mattel’s strategy in dolls seems to be paying off; there really is something for everyone.

While My Garden Baby will evolve the Dolls space, the launch also reflects Mattel’s continuing evolution as a business. “It’s important that we continue to drive the entire Dolls category, and within that we needed to understand what the core drivers are – and how our product lines can support them,” Kelly explained. “Working with Cardiff University, our research has shown us that playing with dolls activates regions of the brain associated with social information such as compassion and empathy. It’s also perfect for inspiring role-play based on real life situations, which helps kids develop social processing skills.”

A new spring campaign, A Doll Can Help Change the World, taps into Mattel’s enhanced understanding of this space and follows on from the You Can Be Anything hero content. The campaign takes this research to the next level, helping parents understand how doll play can prepare kids for the future.

For more on Mattel’s extensive Dolls business, read the full article, which featured in the May edition of Toy World, click here.


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