SELLING BRATZDOLLS IN
DOESNOT CATCH ON
Source: ‘‘Asia balks at Bratz’s ‘hooker chic’ image,’’ Media, December 16, 2005, p. 16,
Bratz is a range of streetwise dolls marketed by
MGA Entertainment (www.mgae.com). The
dolls have taken the United States and Europe
by storm. Global sales in 2004 hit US$2.5
billion, compared to Barbie’s $3 billion. You only
need to take a stroll in any toy store in the
United States or Europe to witness the impact
of Bratz. Instead of Barbie’s signature pink, the
shelves are black and purple—the colors of
In Europe and the United States, the Barbie look is
now passé among teenage girls in spite of an
image and lifestyle makeover. Many observers of
the industry wonder whether Barbie has any future
left. What made Bratz a runaway success in the
United States and Europe is that Bratz dolls
resonate far more strongly with today’s generation
of teenage girls who have grown up with MTV and
lifestyle magazines like Dolly and Seventeen. Some
commentators refer to the Bratz dolls’ funky image
as ‘‘hooker chic.’’ Barbie, however, reflects the
bygone era of 1950s Americana.
In Asia, however, the story is completely different.
Bratz dolls caused some hoopla when they were
first launched109 in the region, but since then
reactions have been rather muted. There has been
virtually no marketing since then. The success story
of Bratz in Europe and the United States has so far
not been replicated in Asia. There are a couple of
possible causes behind Bratz failure to catch on. A
range of distributors across different markets, each
with inputs at the local level, has made it difficult to
coordinate promotional efforts.
Barbie reflects a nostalgic image of America.
However, many Asian girls (and their mothers) are
not familiar with Bratz. MGA may also have
misjudged the Asian market. Play-patterns and role
models Asian girls differ from their American and
European peers. Barbie and Hello Kitty dolls still
hold strong allure among Asian girls (and even
women). One important factor in Asia is the mother:
in Asia, it is typically the mother who buys toys. The
funky image of Bratz dolls with their hip looks,
heavy make-up, and short skirts might be far too
risqué for mothers in Asia.
1. Examine what cultural factors hindered the take-off
of Bratz in Asia despite the dolls’ phenomenal
success in the United States and in Europe.
2. Discuss what MGA Entertainment can do to boost
the sales of Bratz dolls in Asia.