Why Losing The Disney Princess Doll Rights May Have Been The Best Possible Thing For Mattel

Why Losing The Disney Princess Doll Rights May Have Been The Best Possible Thing For Mattel

When Disney awarded the Disney Princess Doll rights to Hasbro back in 2014, it was seen by many people in the toy business as a major loss for Mattel. This company which was so synonymous with toy dolls had lost one of the biggest opportunities in that category.

But retrospectively, this loss of the Disney Princess Doll rights may have been the best thing that has happened to Mattel in recent years. At the time of writing, Mattel just released Q1 2021 results, and they are really good, with Doll sales highlighted as driving a significant portion of the year-on-year growth.

If we look back to 2014, Barbie was somewhat in the doldrums, and Mattel had arguably been slow to adapt the Barbie brand and iconic look of the Dolls to the social media era, whereby inclusiveness rules if you want to get social media support and avoid backlash. Looking at Barbie in 2021 versus 2014 is like looking at the same brand decades apart, the updating of Barbie for the kids and parents of today and the world they live in has been nothing short of brilliant.

Only those within Mattel will know whether needing to put so many creative and development resources into the Disney Princess product lines took away focus from Barbie, but what we can say is that since the loss of those rights, while Mattel may have lost a reported $500m sales opportunity, they seem to have benefited with topline sales growth for Barbie, greater profitability on those sales and therefore increased brand equity.


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