Last year, the toy industry was among the few to prosper as the pandemic upended many businesses. For Mattel, it was the second straight year of growth, and Lisa McKnight, global head of Barbie and dolls, attributed the company's success to its legacy brands Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price.
"Not only is Barbie, again, the premier brand in connecting to culture, reflecting what's going on around us, but we made a real effort to shift our strategies. We leaned into social [media] to make sure that we were cultivating conversation right out of the gate and providing not only entertaining content but also important, relevant content to help parents navigate through this incredible time," she told Cheddar.
Growth within the Barbie line, according to McKnight, expanded last year and the company saw incremental sales after the launch of Barbie Extra, which targets an older audience. Perhaps the most stunning part about Barbie's success over the past year is the rate at which another legacy item, the Dreamhouse, flew off of shelves.
"We constantly reinvent it, and last year, we sold one Dreamhouse every minute. It did incredibly well because of its play value and [it] resonates with parents that grew up with the Dreamhouse themselves," she said.
As corporate America engages in conversations surrounding social progress, Mattel has invested in its Play Fair initiative, which aims to snuff out systemic racism. Inclusivity, diversity, and representation continue to be pillars the company says it strives for, whether it be through its toy lines, workplace demographics, or by giving a voice to those who often go unheard.
While Mattel is trending upward in terms of growth and sales, upcoming projects like a Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie, the Barbie digital gaming app, and the enhanced line of body types offered in its dolls will potentially help the brand maintain its standing.
"Obviously we have to go where our consumers are going, and certainly they're consuming digital media like never before. We've had great success with our kid-targeted gaming app, and we're going to be looking at expanding the audience in the future years," McKnight said.