Barbie Goes Brainy for Chinese Market
Now with violin, sheet music, and a low price tag
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2013 11:40 AM CST
A young Chinese girl looks at the Barbie dolls on display at a Barbie dolls exhibition held in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 30, 2009.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – Aiming to please education-minded parents, Mattel has given Barbie a fresh new look for the booming Chinese toy market, in a move that, as Quartz reports, highlights China's shift from manufacturer to consumer. New low-price dolls, including "Violin Soloist" Barbie, will help merge joy and learning, which "are like oil and water in China," Mattel's Asia Pacific senior VP tells the Wall Street Journal. Cheaper prices are also key to getting a foothold in the toy market, which, excluding video games, jumped 18% to nearly $8 billion last year, while developed market sales remained flat.

The aforementioned Barbie, complete with violin, sheet music, and a $13 price tag—as opposed to $30 in the US—is only one of Mattel's recent Chinese strategies; the company also opened a Thomas the Tank Engine playland and a traveling Hot Wheels race track there this year. Plus, the company has replaced puppies with pandas in some of its toys, and Fisher Price's "Joy of Learning" tagline has been replaced with "Play IQ." Mattel even got Chinese government leaders together with educational experts to talk about research showing the benefits of having a little fun during school hours. "If they allow for more play, half of our marketing is done," the VP says.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
Nov 9, 2013 9:25 AM CST
Every year around Xmas, some publicity whore dreams up some unofficial, outrageous, stupid Barbie version and I believe these are no exception. China's on the way out - Indonesia & Micronesia are the new spewers of serious popular culture. Oh siap, bibeh.
Nov 9, 2013 7:37 AM CST
Just goes to show you... American girls are taught the importance of being beautiful. Chinese girls are taught the importance of working hard to succeed academically and professionally. I'll take China, thank you very much.
Tom Maker
Nov 8, 2013 2:32 PM CST
Education is good but many Asians are obsessed with it. They beat their children if they do not get A's. Literally, that is accepted. I am not sure a doll with help children aspire to learn, but maybe I am missing something.