Poor Mattel! They've been exploiting the cheap labor of China in order to make crappy toys for years now and how do the people of China thank them? By refusing to buy those crappy toys for their own kids. The company is currently pushing hard to grow their Chinese market — specifically by getting little girls excited about Barbie dolls — but is having a particularly hard time, despite the fact that China has one of the most rapidly growing toy markets in the world.
After a failed attempt at opening a flagship Barbie store in Shanghai in 2009, Mattel is now attempting new ways to fit Barbie into the the Chinese market. Barbie as we know her is considered by some as too sexy for the Chinese audience, which typically values cuteness over va-va-voom-ness.
Helen Wang argues in Forbes:
Mattel didn't quite understand what Chinese girls and young women want. The Chinese concept of "femininity" is very different from that of American. In China, "feminine" is more about sweet and soft rather than smart and strong, more about gentle and loving rather than dazzling and fashion-forward. Although it has created a Chinese Barbie Ling with black hair who wears Chinese attire, Mattel failed to understand what Ling would represent in order to appeal to Chinese girls.
One thing is for certain — Chinese kids' lack of interest in Barbies has led to some cheap-ass dolls. Play sets that value in the States for $30 are selling in China for $11.
This push to get parents to buy Barbie even at a profit loss for Mattel could China's shift from manufacturer to consumer.
Barbie's renewed campaign in China may be a sign that the [Made in China] writing on her butt may soon change again, or, to put it another way, Mattel may begin shifting its manufacturing elsewhere.
Sorry, yet-to-be-determined developing country. You may get a Mattel factory yet.
Meanwhile, Chinese kids still don't give a fuck about these shitty toys.
Image via Getty.