Mattel claimed that the dollar exchange rate had something to do with the decline, making the gross international sale drop by 19% but the North American gross sales still dropped by 5%, so there.
When I bought Barbie clothes, the minimum wage earner cashiers double checked the prices. They couldn't believe that a tiny Barbie shirt can cost as much as their shirts! They didn't say it out loud but one can tell just by the look in their eyes. The fact is, one can get more value from buying other stuff than Barbie.
Last Christmas, I gave my nieces Barbie dolls. They really weren't that happy. They have enough Barbie dolls. How many dolls does a girl need? Kids don't really care much about doll diversity. My nieces don't care if they don't have an AA or an Asian doll. Barbie never looked like any real person anyways. Barbie is not a real person. She's not somebody you will care for. She's somebody you'll envy and secretly wish ill.
When I saw their reactions, I thought that I should have kept the dolls and use the bodies and give my nieces a different gift instead. That's what I'll do this year. I'm going to give them non-Lego brick sets in pink. Maybe it will encourage them to be more creative. Plus if they lose or broke a piece or two, they can still play with it.
Maybe Mattel has some serious challenges ahead of them. I don't know if the new articulation in the Made to Move dolls will cut it. Personally, I don't like the Frankenstein joints. Maybe those who like the monster dolls will love them but not me. I don't think the trendy fashion will be enough. It has been tested with the stiff Fashionistas but the sales prove that it's not the key. The limited edition dolls really has a limited dent on the sales.
To improve international sales, maybe Mattel can do something about the price. People outside north America pay a lot more. If they can sell more unit a a lower profit margin maybe it will be better than selling less units with higher profit margin. I don't have the figures so I say "maybe".
Mattel has an agreement with a local company so the local company can monopolize the sale of Barbie. It is possible that the same setup is in place in other countries. Maybe Mattel can change the setup. Personally, I think there are other local entities better equipped in selling Barbie.
The main problem is making more people buy Barbie. Why will you buy a character you just envy and secretly hate? It's not like Barbie cares for you. That's the problem. Barbie as a character seems to care more about material things and less about the child or the collector. Barbie is the star in her world and we just play in it. Why play in it if you'll forever be an outsider playing by her rules?
In short, Barbie needs to change her identity, not just the skin color. She needs to change her values to make her more relatable. She has to be seen as a friend you can care for, not a plaything. She needs to be human so people will care for her. Maybe the Barbie live action movie will help. We'll see...