Friday, August 15, 2014

On Making a Difference

I have been buying Babs again at SRP. Before, I only buy when they offer discounts. This has been very effective in communicating may sentiments to the sole distributor about their pricing scheme.

Before I start being grateful for the changes, it is important to note that only one company is authorized by Mattel to distribute Barbie products in our country. It sounds like monopoly to me as they are not affected by competition. This set up is not really beneficial to the consumer.

Since competition is not at play (at least not blatantly since there are other sources like buying online), a consumer like me could only rely on other market forces like supply and demand, specifically controlling the demand. That is when I decided not to buy Barbies at their suggested retail price. I also decided not to promote the product.

It is also important to note that a lot of dolls here cost about twice as much due to the shipping cost and other taxes and of course, the monopoly. The Spotlight Fashionista, for example, originally sold at $17 at the They used to sell at $34 locally. They are now discounted at $13.75 at the online Mattel shop. Locally, the discounted price is $23. That's still higher that the original price at the online store!

Even at the discounted price, I am still not buying any of the Spotlight Fashionista. They look like fashion victims with those gaudy gowns. The only thing desirable are the articulated bodies and the blings. I am not paying $23 for those.

The model-muse-wannabe Fashionista sells at the Mattel shop for about $11. They sell here for $23. Although they have fashionable clothes, the lack of articulation is a major disappointment. They became peg warmers here. They eventually reduced the price to $16 locally, although some variants are still at $23. I'm still not buying since I only want the clothes.

I felt that all the consumers who decided to send a message to the distributor by not buying are finally being heard. The local distributor recently released the Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse dolls (at least, the 4 of them). I was surprised that they are now selling them locally after they were introduced over a year ago. I was expecting them to be priced at $34 but it was an added surprise to see them selling it at $23.

This is Midge, not to be mistaken with the redhead 
Top Model Summer using the same face sculpt.
Her head has been shrunken, the eyelashes 
trimmed and the eyes repainted.

Imagine, a non-poseable (based on today's standards) dressed doll cost the same as a dressed articulated doll with an extra outfit! The latter is obviously a better deal. I believe that this kind of change won't be possible if the consumers like me didn't unite to make a statement about how the dolls are being sold here. I'm very grateful to my fellow consumers who have made this possible.

I thought that Raquelle and Midge would sell out earlier than Teresa and Summer. It was a surprise to see the Summer doll out of stock within a week. (I checked 5 toy stores.) I realized that a local online seller offered the dolls and a lot of people ordered Raquelle and Midge. Maybe that is why less people are buying the two since the collectors already have them, thanks to the online seller.

I didn't buy from the online seller. Not buying from online sellers is a form of protest for Mattel to improve their distribution system. It is also a form of protest to the online scalpers. Imagine if Mattel allows other companies to distribute Barbies locally. The prices will be more competitive. Maybe Mattel's sales will even increase. Who knows? It was a good decision not to buy from the online seller since the local toy store price is cheaper than the online seller price (although this is not always the case because of the monopoly I've mentioned).

After buying Raquelle, I decided to buy Midge. I thought it was brilliant to introduce an old character to the series to attract older fans to the show and eventually the doll line. Yes, I have a number of dolls with the Steffie mold but this is my first redhead for that mold. I also like her sense of style. Her's is very classic which is a good contrast to Raquelle's offbeat fashion sense. I like her in the Barbie Style doll line, too but I only need one of this doll so I'm not sure if I will still but it. Heck, I'm not even sure if it will be made available here.

These are just small changes and it can easily revert to the old price scheme as they please. We should realize that these companies (Mattel and their distributors) earn huge profits from us. (If they don't earn that much, I guess they wouldn't be in this business but they are here and they do earn that much.) It is the consumers who eventually pay their wages. It is important that we make them serve us the way we want them to.

The new Allan and Midge

Spread the word. You're the boss.

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