Fashion dolls

Once dominated by the titanic tussle between Bratz and Barbie, the £112m fashion dolls sector is changing, with licensed lines, particularly from Disney beginning to dominate. NPD offers more insight?
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In 2008 the total girls’ market was worth £1.2 billion (excluding video games) with fashion dolls accounting for ten per cent of total sales – the largest category outside of pre-school for girls (source NPD Consumer Panel Service). Sales of fashions dolls reached £112m in 2008 with ages four to seven particularly key to the category, accounting for 60 per cent of the total volume sold. However, ages two to three years are becoming increasingly important as an entry level with 16 per cent of sales now through that age range.

The girls’ market is much less reliant on films in comparison to the boys’ market, which is very much driven by the latest blockbusters and must-see TV shows, helping to boost licensed product sales for boys. Within girls, Barbie, the longest running fashion doll, has continued to perform strongly and has recently had its 50th birthday – succeeding without TV or film in the UK.

Most top selling items, however, are relatively new and reinvention seems to be the key to long life in the market. Barbie’s continual re-development has allowed her to survive and has recently reclaimed top placing in fashion dolls from Bratz. However the on-going battle between Bratz and Barbie that has dominated the market in the past few years has allowed for newer licensed fashion dolls to move into the category.

High School Musical is now the number two property behind Barbie with the release of High School Musical 3 on DVD at the end of February boosting sales and Hannah Montana also making particularly strong inroads into the category.

But it’s not just the dolls that are attracting girls’ attention to the new licences but also the styling and dress up element, where girls aspire to have the lifestyle offered by such licences as High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Licences now account for 44 per cent of total fashion dolls & accessories for the year to date compared to 24 per cent for the year to date 2008, but still well behind the boys’ action figures market where licences account for over 80 per cent of value sales.

It will be interesting to see if the current trend for licences within the girls market continues, with only the Hannah Montana film specifically aimed at girls released this year or if the focus will move to TV shows such as The Jonas Brothers and Sonny With A Chance. Perhaps the girls market will focus on other new ranges being launched such as Disney Fairies or perhaps it will be Barbie’s birthday marketing that dominates.

Top selling fashion dolls YTD 09 (Source: NPD)

1. HSM 3 Prom Doll Assortment (Mattel)

2. Barbie Thumbelina Lead Doll (Mattel)

3. Barbie Diamond Castle Princess Lia (Mattel)

4. Disney Princess Collection (Character Option)

5. HSM 3 College Doll (Mattel)

6. Bratz Really Rock Assortment (MGA Entertainment)

7. HSM Country Club Feature Doll (Mattel)

8. Barbie Rapunzel Cut n Style (Mattel)

9. Bratz Kidz Concert Snap-on (MGA Entertainment)

10. Barbie Doll with Bicycle (Mattel)

MATTEL - 01628 500000

Mattel maintains the number one position within the fashion dolls category (value, March 2009 NPD) having had a strong start to the year, marking 50 years of fashion with celebrations across the globe.

Fashion partnerships and a six-figure brand campaign taking in digital, broadcast, print and direct to girls have ensured everyone in the UK will have heard about Barbie’s anniversary on average 11 times.

The strong Barbie momentum is set to continue into the second half of the year as well. The brand will launch a range of feature-driven character dolls and plush from the latest animated movie Barbie and The Three Musketeers.

Mattel will also launch updated versions of perennial favourites including Barbie’s Dream House and Camper Van plus extension in pets such as the Shower & Show Horse and Doggie Park. Barbie’s brand campaign will continue throughout the year along with TV investment, PR and retailer initiatives.

Mattel continues its partnership with Disney with developments for High School Musical and Hannah Montana. A UK High School Musical live stage show will run throughout autumn/winter providing girls with another chance to engage in the storyline. A range of HSM product will include the new collection of 20 mini collectible dolls.

Following Hannah Montana’s debut theatrical release, Mattel will launch new Hannah and Miley character dolls and a Travis & Miley First Date gift set – all recognisable from the movie.

CHARACTER OPTIONS - 0161 633 9800

In line with the November DVD launch, Snow White has a prominent place in the Disney Princess Dolls range this year with Snow White and her Forest Friends which comes complete with seven forest creatures that can help with the housework just as in the classic scene from the film.

The heroine of the Little Mermaid films is the inspiration behind the Colour Change Ariel doll. This doll has a hidden secret - place her tail or her hair into water and they will change to a different colour depending whether the water is cold or warm. This doll also comes with colourful hair extensions.

The Princess Collection has all the Disney heroines including Cinderella, Jasmine, Belle and Sleeping Beauty whilst in the Charming Collection each doll includes a charm bracelet to decorate with charms from the princess’s dress. Other accessories include a brush and comb to style the doll’s hair.

The Disney Princess Dolls from Character Options are supported by TV advertising, girls’ consumer competitions and other PR.

DKL - 01604 678780

Les Cheries by Corolle are dolls dressed in the latest fashions paired with modern accessories. Suitable for girls five years plus, each doll measures 33cm in length and comes packaged in a presentation box. There are five dolls to choose from in this range; Camille, Clara, Chloe, Cathy and Cecile.

The dolls themselves have in-proportion vinyl bodies and authentic features such as, authentically coloured skin, moving eyes and freshly glossed lips. Their crowning glory is a mane of shiny hair, which is ideal for play grooming and styling.

For quirky collectable dolls, DKL has Les Dollies (three years plus) and les Beedibies (18 months plus) from Corolle’s Trendies range. The dolls have long multi-coloured stripy legs finished with eye-catching platform shoes. Dollies also have iridescent hair, varying from shocking pink to black with pink highlights, which has been styled into high bunches. New to the 2009 range is Dolly Toffee Apple. This doll has a toffee apple scent and has bright orange hair and gold shoes.

Beedibies are compact dolls with expressive faces. And with no two exactly the same, Beedibies have baby-like features – large doe-eyes contrasting with button noses, small mouths, tiny out-turned ears, round tummies, an outie belly button and chubby baby feet. Their hands are in a permanent fist with both thumbs turned upright, so that either can be put in the mouth to suck. Beedibies have movable arms and legs and are made of a flexible vinyl emitting a vanilla scent.

Beedibies and Dollies are available as assortment packs of 12 in branded display boxes. All Corolle ranges are supported by a sales and marketing campaign and POS is always readily available to retailers.

FLAIR - 020 8643 0320

Flair’s Disney Fairies range of fashion dolls launches this autumn in line with the next major DVD release Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

The dolls target girls between four and six years and focus on the enchanted features in the world of Pixie Hollow. With five Autumn Fairies Dolls to collect, the 23cm fully poseable Tinker Bell and her four friends come with a blue moon stone necklace for the girl to wear; while the five Light Up Wings Dolls come with a special flower ring which makes each fairy’s wings light up.

Tink and Blaze is a 23cm Tinker Bell doll, which makes fairy sounds to her loyal friend Blaze the firefly. Also in the collection is the 23cm Tinker Bell Magic Spiral Wings whose wings spin around in the air making it seem as if she is really flying.

The Disney Fairies range will be supported with a number of PR initiatives and an autumn/winter TV advertising campaign.


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