As an economic crisis rocks the world and life in Tibet carries on as “normal,” an American corporation has just the thing to spruce up life in Shanghai. Beijing has an Apple store, why can’t Shanghai have a Barbie store? The new Barbie store will open Friday, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the doll next week.
Complete with a late-night diner, Mattel (the company that produces Barbie dolls) hopes that China will become the number one market for Barbie within 10 years. The store itself looks to be quite a sprawling complex, containing over 900 display cases of various Barbie models, a nail and hair salon, as well as a sort of memory lane to view Barbies of a by-gone era.
We here at ChinaGeeks have to snicker a bit at the appropriateness of placing the store in Shanghai, the Chinese city with the biggest reputation for being snobby and superficial (and not just according to foreigners). One would assume Mattel has done their own market research and sees fertile ground for Barbie products in Shanghai and China in general. Seeing if they’re right is going to be an excellent view into the psychology of the middle-class in China; this can be good or bad depending on one’s original opinion on Barbie in the first place.
Whatever the outcome, somehow it seems doubtful that Mattel’s classic “Chinese Barbie” will be a mainland hit. According to the official description, Chinese Barbie is…
“…a living muse of Chinese beauty and cultural tradition. Dressed in a rich pink chrysanthemum print guazi (robe) over a slim skirt of the same design, Chinese Barbie® exudes the simplistic grace of the Chinese culture. Her gorgeous costume is accented by intricate black and golden bordering, with black slippers covering her feet.”
Then again, Barbie as a vehicle of traditional Chinese dress style might be just the daring marketing trip the brand needs to succeed in this turbulent economy. China and Barbie enthusiasts will be watching.
Note: The author’s favorite Barbie he came across while browsing is Canadian Barbie. “Hello and bonjour!”