Interpreting Consumer Reactions to Barbie's Progressive Product Line

Social analytics provides insights on Barbie's consumer perception and brand marketing strategy

The landscape of fashion advertising campaigns has changed. As we move forward into the new year, healthy and self-acceptance driven campaigns have moved to the forefront as empowerment has become a relevant topic of advertising strategy. However, some brands have been slower to jump on the bandwagon than others.
As Barbie announces their new line of dolls, we decided to analyze their brand identity of topics of conversation over the last few years. Through Crimson Hexagon’s platform, we were able to look at Barbie’s consumer perception and the shopping discussions and trends that have tied to the brand over the few years. For Barbie, the self-esteem conversation is not anything trendy or new. In fact, looking over historical data trends, we were able to acknowledge that conversations regarding self-esteem started to spike in 2010, over six years ago.
How has Barbie attempted to bring diversity to its product lines?
In 2012 a viral Facebook campaign was launched requesting that Mattel produce a bald Barbie, specifically for a young girl who was struggling with cancer. Mattel heard consumers, loud and clear, and delivered accordingly. During this time, the company saw a gain in positive sentiment.

When delving further into the conversation, we can begin to understand more about the influx of positive reactions from consumers. Immediately after the bald Barbie was released, we see a massive 30% of consumers expressing that the campaign was inspiration and moving, and an additional 22% of consumers were discussing an increase in diversity for the brand.
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However, distribution of bald Barbie, appeared to be an isolated event, which, quickly resulting in a spike of negative conversation short after, with customers demanding a wider variety of dolls. It was clear that consumers wanted something more than a limited edition doll.
Moving forward, in January of 2016, Barbie announced that they would be diversifying their Barbie’s, transforming the iconic dolls to give them a more relatable physicality.  Mattel announced that the brand would be changing the size, shape, and skin tone of their dolls, introducing curvy, tall and petite dolls for the brand.

 
BarbieTWblogThe launch was a big hit with consumers. Since the campaign has started, we can see that even within a month, consumers were still discussing topics such as “New Barbie” and “Healthy Body” in regards to the dolls, and expressing a general admiration towards the brand.
With the launch of their new dolls, it appears that Barbie has been successful in appeasing customers with their diversified dolls. However, looking back over the brand’s historical backlash, could Barbie, with the help of social listening platforms, have addressed these consumers concerns sooner by identifying trends in conversation?
We think so. By creating a basic brand health monitor, brands like Barbie, could have tracked the owned metrics of their brand (likes, retweets etc.) but they could have additionally kept tabs on real time events, and relevant topics of conversation to inform overall company strategy, creative planning and, in the case of Barbie, restricting much of their product outlook.
By using Crimson Hexagon’s platform, brands can use social insights to isolate the most important conversations. In doing so, brands and agencies alike are able to understand conversational themes to act sooner and capitalize on consumer sentiment.

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