Bratz vs. Barbie: The Power of Strategic Innovation

In her book – The Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers – Women, Fara Warner describes how the MGA’s Bratz line of brash, but fashionable, dolls toppled Mattel’s Barbie — by focusing on consumer behavior.

Says Warner:
– Don’t allow personal history or preconceived ideas of women — in this case, young girls — to overshadow insight from consumers.
– Read, listen, and respond to correspondence from consumers — not their parents. MGA used this strategy to create a line of boy Bratz.
– Consider the consumers’ whole world, not just the time when they are using the product. This strategy was used to expand Bratz beyond dolls and clothes.
– Move with consumer trends, not industry timelines. MGA creates new clothing lines for its dolls every three to six months, not just once a year.
Read this chapter — Toppling Barbie: Bratz Predict the Future — from her book.
The Bratz example serves as a powerful reminder that companies like Mattel cannot afford to rest on their laurels, but need to selectively forget the past, as Vijay Govindarajan would say.
Fara has also started a blog. Her introductory post is here.
Maybe there’s a place for an environmental girl doll one of these days — perhaps a Jane Goodall do-good activist doll? I mean why do toy companies focus on girls, malls and fashion? All right, I know the answer… it was a rhetorical question.

One Reply to “Bratz vs. Barbie: The Power of Strategic Innovation”

  1. Product Naming: Barbie Beaten by the Bratz

    I found a recent Time article that points out what parents of little girls everywhere have already discovered: Barbie is “dead”, and long live the Bratz, the “Girls with a Passion for Fashion”. At least one Standard and Poor analyst has suggested that …

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