Exclusive: Mattel shares all on the Year of Dolls

Published on: 3rd May 2023

Toy World chats with Lisa McKnight, EVP, Global head of Barbie & Dolls Portfolio at Mattel, about what’s in store in the months ahead.

“We couldn’t be more excited about 2023,” Lisa told us over lunch at the Mattel stand in Nuremberg back in February. The place is absolutely heaving: it’s almost hard to hear what Lisa has to say above the hubbub of visitors, all vying enthusiastically for a piece of the company’s impressive doll action.

As far as Mattel is concerned, it has the doll portfolio to beat. That’s not to say its command of the space is to the detriment of others – indeed, noting that the Dolls category lost some ground last year, Lisa feels strongly that Mattel’s Year of Dolls, and all that comes with it, will benefit everyone in the space by driving category growth and boosting consumer awareness of, and demand for, dolls.

“What makes 2023 so unprecedented is the theatrical support we’ve got in place,” Lisa explains. “Typically, this is an area you see fuelling categories such as Action Figures. But dolls? Not so much.”

The Barbie movie, which arrives in UK cinemas in July, is not just one of the Mattel’s biggest moments of the year –it’s one of 2023’s biggest film releases full stop. The film is a smart, razor sharp take on the brand and is set to accelerate the franchise far beyond toys into beauty, apparel, home décor and other adult lifestyle products.

“The movie will bring us more adult fans, but we’re also skewing much younger with the introduction of My First Barbie,” adds Lisa. “We successfully partnered with Little People last year on a Barbie Dreamhouse play set for pre-schoolers, so we knew the audience was there and hungry for a Barbie doll range suitable for kids of that age.”

There’s also a raft of Disney releases to look forward to this year, and Lisa tells us about products based on The Little Mermaid, as well as Peter Pan and Wendy, and Wish. Plus there are new releases from franchises such as Trolls 3, Monster High and Polly Pocket, which will be introducing a new Friends theme.

Launches and tentpole activations are spread throughout the year, meaning partners needn’t choose one brand or property over another: each is being given its moment to shine, so retailers can capitalise on demand by creating space in-store and on-shelf.

To read the full article, which appeared in the May edition of Toy World, click here.


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