Getting American Girl on Track?

Fortune magazine had an article today about Mattel’s plans to turn things around across their brands, including American Girl.  Key points:

  • Turnaround plans focus on emerging markets, faster pace of toy development (oh no!) and the digital play experience
  • In the past year, Mattel stock has fallen 28% while Hasbro’s shares have risen 29%
  • CEO says American Girl has been poorly managed (you knew someone had to take the fall for the perma panties…)
  • Revitalization of American Girl will take longer than expected
  • Need to speed up new product development time from 18 mo to 6 mo

None of these points speak to American Girl’s original beloved concept of your doll being special friend for life, crafted with care yet able to be played with and loved.  Their plans sound more like ‘this Barbie doll’s leg will fall off in 4 months, but no worries — pick another one up wherever you shop.’

What happens when you try too many things at once…..

This is not a digital play experience!

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Getting American Girl on Track?

    1. Jen Post author

      Thanks Nonna. None of these initiatives are really telling for me. I have no problem selling in other markets, but a product featuring American girls shouldn’t be randomly tweaked to sell in China… “she’s an American kid, but her mom is a professor and goes to China…”. They’ve been relying on these storylines too long for GOTY.

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  1. thefisherfool

    Boy do I hope they sell American Girl before it gets permanently unrecognizable and totally looses its original self.

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    1. Jen Post author

      In the article the CEO said something to the effect that “tough decisions” needed to be made for the company, and I wondered whether selling some of the product lines could be one of them.
      Turning new doll lines around in 6 months doesn’t sound like a process that will produce quality, heirloom dolls that last a lifetime.

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    1. Jen Post author

      When I saw the focus on digital play experience I heard Donald Trump’s voice in my head saying “WRONG”! Later in the article it mentions they are trying to tie existing products into STEM/STEAM. I’m all for girls in science, but I think it has to fit. I don’t want every character to come with a chemistry set… or ballet slippers for that matter. Let’s have more great stories that regular girls relate to.

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      1. Jen Post author

        Thanks for your comment. I know we need more women in science, and that’s great, but I have a feeling Mattel will just develop something that skims the surface rather than really speaking to the girl who has a talent in these areas. Hope I’m wrong…

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  2. Xyra & Melody

    They tried the digital play thing a few years ago when the JLY came with a code – like Webkinz. Considering the IT department has issues getting our accounts and sales to coordinate, not sure they can handle digital play beyond the games they already provide.

    Speed up development says increase in lack of accuracy in stories and accessories. I guess we wait and watch and see what happens.

    Love your photos!

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    1. Jen Post author

      I forgot all about Innerstar U! I’m not sure parents are itching to police more digital play, and it is hard to top the apps out there and Minecraft which still has its grip.
      I’m for the “do what you do, and do it the best” approach, rather than “let’s try everything!”
      Love reading your blog on FB. 😃

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