Thoughts about Barbie from CMB’s Women Affinity Group
About a 3 min. read
When you think about Summer 2023, Barbie might come to mind. Even if you haven’t seen the blockbuster movie, its clever marketing tactics and immense social media buzz likely grabbed your attention. It seemed like almost everyone was talking about it, everyone was wearing pink, and there was a sense of “FOMO” if you weren’t.
I decided to do a mini focus group with our Women’s Affinity Group to capture reactions to the film & Barbie as a brand. At CMB, we value our Affinity Groups as a place for those who share an identity to convene on learning, support, and connections. As the number one girls’ toy brand in the world, Barbie holds a special place for many, and it was nice to have the forum to discuss such a topical movie! Here are the top insights:
Not surprisingly, participants in the group have fond memories of Barbie from their childhood. It’s a brand with strong multi-generational nostalgia. Many recounted stories of playing Barbies with their moms, siblings & friends – and how much those interactions meant to them. The Barbie brand has strong associations with “imagination” & “creativity,” and the idea that “you can be anything”.
The movie changed some perceptions of Barbie in a positive way. Many in the group felt that when they were growing up, Barbie felt very “feminine” and “girly” – a la the Stereotypical Barbie from the movie. And while the Barbie brand has worked to diversify and be more inclusive over the years, both the marketing for the movie and the movie itself did a good job at conveying the message that Barbie is for everyone.
The message of the movie also resonated with members of the Women’s Affinity group, especially America Ferrera’s speech:
Ken was one of the best parts of the film – the Affinity Group especially loved his dance sequence. However, when we discussed the doll Ken, it was a different story. The majority said they never had or played with a Ken doll growing up and didn’t feel like they needed one.
This begs the question of what is next for Ken? There seems like a real opportunity here for Barbie to grow interest and appeal in Ken to capitalize on his movie popularity. Who wouldn’t want to stay at Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House?
Being involved in market research and thinking about brands every day, the role Mattel as a brand had in the film jumped out to the group. The “cheekiness” made the brand feel more authentic and relatable. It was nice to see Mattel poking fun at themselves and not shying away from some of the more problematic elements of Barbie that the brand may have faced in the past. It’s clear that Mattel really understood the film’s target audience and were not afraid to take chances on the storyline.
So, what does this mean for you and your brand? Brand health is essential to grow, innovate, and engage with confidence. CMB’s mini focus group on the Barbie movie is a small sample that shows the insights you can uncover about your own version of Barbie world. Through the power of Qual + Quant, fused with AI and HI, you can leave no insight lost. In turn, excite and delight your consumers every step of the way. Come on Barbie, let’s [do some market research]!
 Note that our n-size here is 7, so as with most Qual research, please treat these findings as directional :).