Lately I feel like American Girl is moving so fast I can’t keep up. There’s the MegaBlocks toy sets coming out this summer, ZCrew videos (#AGZcrew) on YouTube and accompanying merchandise, Wellie Wishers dolls, a Melody sneak peek, and let’s not forget Lea! Maryellen is ancient history by now.
My initial reaction is nostalgia for the days when AG was a few dolls with wonderful historical outfits and accessories. You chose your path… Samantha? Addy? That became your special friend.
All these new items! Will they hurt the brand identity?
I go back to a lesson I learned in the posts on DollightfulDolls that feature lots of old catalog pages. Even “back in the old days” American Girl tried out lots of different merchanise offerings… From a doll from the Amelia books to bath and body products to entire catalogs just for (human) girls’ clothing. Many items have fallen by the wayside, but my feeling is that new products might bring new customers into the core business. That’s what I hope, anyway.
In the CBS clip this morning, the American Girl marketing rep stated that ultimately American Girl is a company about stories of girls’ lives. While I agree that a doll’s story is what motivates me as a consumer, the company’s recent action of removing the special illustrations from the books runs counter to their statement that they are all about the stories. Maryellen and Melody’s stories both suffer as a result of no illustrations, especially for their target age consumers who won’t bother to look up words like “Afro” or references to Rosemary Clooney. Today’s 1st – 3rd grade readers are drawn to books that are borderline graphic novels, such as Geronimo/Thea Stilton, Dork Diaries, Mercy Watson, and the revamped Babysitters’ Club books.
This past holiday season one of the kids on the playground told me she was getting Grace. I asked what her favorite AG book was, and she said, “There are books?”
Keep innovating American Girl, but don’t forget to make the books a “must read” for kids!