»Hello Barbie« – digitalizing a traditional product to provide opportunities for new (subscription) services

Igor Pauletič / / Inbound Marketing

Digitalization or digital transformation (if you prefer) is one of the key generators of current economic progress (as well as social development). When I try to explain it to our customers, I try to narrow it down to concrete examples. This is the only simple and understandable way to explain it that will fascinate them and lead them to taking steps in their development which could potentially include some of our services.

There is no survival without development

I often hear, especially among domestic companies, that they are a part of a mature industry and there are almost no chances for any significant new developments in their business. When I hear something like that, I first think about the owners of the company. I would not feel comfortable being the owner of a company that no longer believes in their survival – because there is no survival without development. It is only a matter of time.

There is no survival without development. Click To Tweet

The digitalization trend that we are witnessing this moment is a good development step in my opinion. Development trends have never been as clear as they are now. Digitalization opens new development opportunities to companies in 3 areas – they can improve the customer experience (CX), optimize their own processes or try to create new business models.

Hello digitalization, hello Barbie

I don’t want all of this to sound purely hypothetical, so I will illustrate it with a real world example. The last one that got me thinking was Matell. Not many people know the company, but they certainly know their main product – Barbie. It is probably the most recognizable girl’s toy that has been on the market ever since 1959. Yet they are still thinking about development. Even though most people would think there is no room for further developing of dolls, I discovered that Matell really embraced digitalization. Last year they launched their new product »Hello Barbie«.

»Hello Barbie« is a Wifi enabled doll that connects to the Barbie cloud. It recognizes the speech of English speaking children and meaningfully talks back to them. Let’s just say they integrated Cortana or Siri in their classic Barbie doll and it can adapt to the age and developmental stage of the child. Parents gain an opportunity to follow their child’s development, and it helps children develop their imagination. This has been one of the most important aspects of Barbie dolls since their beginnings in 1959.

Digitalization opens the way to new products that will probably bring more money. Click To Tweet

If I ignore the fact that this Barbie doll model costs $75 at Mattel’s e-shop, while the classic Barbie model costs a couple of cents under $10, I find the digitalization of the doll fascinating because they opened the way to new products which will probably bring much more money in the future than Barbie’s fashion accessories were bringing until now. Imagine »Hello Barbie« as the first step in your child’s journey of learning a foreign language. It could be used by speech therapists for example. Or it could simply be used as a toy that helps children learn new words. I can also imagine parents using it as a baby phone that monitors their child’s sleep. Maybe even as an archive that stores your child’s best memories. There is a bunch of reasons to call »Hello Barbie« a »smart toy« and parents will always find »rational« arguments to buy it. The manufacturer will try to find arguments for educators who will recommend their product as an accessory that will help in the development of your child. What parent wouldn’t want that.

Are you still certain that there are no development opportunities in your business?

Mattel has certainly drawn the attention of tech-geek fathers. At least in the short term. If I was buying a doll for my daughter today, I would definitely buy »Hello Barbie«. Even if it doesn’t yet work outside USA and Canada, and there are lots of negative reviews on Amazon that focus on dodgy connectivity and the complex setup of the service.

Are you still sure that there are no development opportunities in your business? What can we do to help you?


[email protected]