Last year, the most iconic doll in the world, Barbie, got a fresh look for a new generation of fans. This year, it seems, belongs to Ken. Recently, Mattel announced plans to release not just one “new look” Ken, but an entire pack of Ken-shaped diversity.
Ken Doll Remade to Appeal to New Fanbase
The new arrivals are yet another way Mattel is trying to appeal to a broader demographic who have a much more diverse ideal of what it means to “look like Ken and Barbie.” According to the announcement, Ken will soon be available in three body types – slim, broad and ‘original’ – as well as seven different skin tones and eight different hair colors with nine hair styles and different eye colors as well.
As with his companion, Barbie, the updated Ken will still be a fashion plate, with duds ranging from business attire to athletic clothes. Lisa McKnight, senior VP and GM for Barbie released a statement saying Mattel was attempting to “redefine” what Barbie and Ken look like for this generation.
While this isn’t the first time Ken had received a makeover, it is the first time there have been so many “Kens” for fans to choose from. So far, though, the response has been less than stellar … and that’s not good for Mattel.
Mattel Has Bad Season
After a very disappointing December holiday shopping season, Mattel moved into 2017 well behind where the company wanted to be. And things have yet to get much better. Sales are down across multiple brands that used to be huge sellers across the board. Mega Bloks, American Girl, and, yes, Barbie, have been down big since this time last year … and it doesn’t look like things are poised to start heading up anytime soon.
While some are blaming changing tastes as to what people want their kids to play with, those who have been watching the market are saying the problem isn’t just with Mattel’s lineup or with the choices parents are making for their kids. It’s that kids aren’t playing with those sorts of toys anymore. The market is saturated … and much of it is either tied to another property, say a movie or TV, or it’s electronic … or both.
Then there’s the major growing trend of pushing back against toys altogether. Parents are trying to get their kids outside, limiting time on screens or indoors. This, too, is driving toy sales down overall. Mattel will have to do more than update its look if the company wants to turn its sales back around.