Bloomingdale’s is one of the retailers and brands trying to tap into the Barbie buzz. It features a pop-up with exclusive Barbie-inspired clothing and accessories, along with a life-size Barbie box where shoppers can pose.
NEW YORK CITY — In midtown Manhattan, shoppers can step inside a life-size Barbie box, pose through a hot pink slide and browse earrings, clothes and candles inspired by the iconic plastic doll. .
The pop-up shop inside Bloomingdale’s flagship store is just one example of how retailers are trying to capitalize on the buzz ahead of Friday. The release of “Barbie” from Warner Bros.
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Over 100 brands including Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s, Crocs And Gaphave licensing agreements or other agreements with the toy manufacturer. Metal Barbie themed fashion, beauty, accessories and more for sale. Many of these items cater to adults who want to conjure up childhood memories of wearing bright pink heels or lying on a pool floaty that seems to have arrived. Barbie outside the dream house.
Bloomingdale’s has an exclusive collection of Barbie-inspired women’s clothing and accessories for her private label, Aqua. This Lexington Ave. But also hopes to attract shoppers with Barbie-themed window displays, special events and complimentary hairstyles.
With a splash of hot pink, retailers hope to banish summer gloom and inflation blues. The Barbie merchandise, hatched months earlier at the start of the film, shows how retailers had to work harder and more creatively to get shoppers’ attention and convince them to pay full price. Companies including Bloomingdale’s parent MessiBig box retailers target And coach parents Tapestry warned of weaker sales of discretionary merchandise and big-ticket items in the U.S., as consumers pay more for groceries and spend on services such as dining out and travel.
Plus, millions of Americans have another expense to fall back on this fall: Student loan payments are resuming after a more than three-year pandemic-related pause.
Aldo chief brand and product officer Dianara Guerlain Amalfitano said some brights and hot pinks can help snap shoppers out of a practical, budget-focused mindset.
“This Barbie Aldo collaboration is one of those ones where maybe rational thought just goes out the window and you’re just like, ‘Ah, this makes me so happy. Great. I’ve got to have this,'” ‘” he said.
Almost half of Aldo’s Barbie collection sold out in the first week. The company said it is working on replenishing inventory for the limited-edition collection, which includes 19 items ranging from cross-body bags to pumps.
About half of Aldo’s 317 North American stores carry the line, along with its website. Aldo products are also available at select Macy’s stores and on the Macy’s website.
Aldo has a collection of Barbie shoes and handbags. Some items, such as its Barbie platform sandals, sold out within 24 hours, the company said.
Macy’s upscale department store, Bloomingdale’s, carries the Barbie the Movie x Aqua line in nine stores and online, and is mixed in with merchandise from other brands. Frank Berman, the department store’s chief marketing officer, said that so far, Barbie merchandise has been “selling incredibly well” and appealing to generations of consumers.
Berman said the retailer intentionally included items in the Barbie-inspired collection at price points, ranging from a $24 pink candle to rose gold heart stud earrings for $8,350.
“We have some things that are a little over the top, but they’re designed so that everyone can have a piece of it,” he said.
Many items in Gap’s Barbie collection have sold out. These include rectangular hot pink adult sunglasses and a t-shirt with canes in big pink letters, both $39.95.
Gap has sold some of its most popular Barbie items, including rectangular pink sunglasses. Her pink denim jacket is also a top performer in her stores and on her website.
Barbie to the rescue?
Retailers will likely have to continue offering unique and innovative merchandise to cater to shoppers’ needs rather than wants as they gear up for the all-important holiday season.
According to market researcher Sarcana, the merged company formerly known as The NPD Group and IRI, discretionary general merchandise sales in June fell 4% in dollar terms from the year-ago period. Unit sales in the category fell 9% during that time.
Previous Week, Amazon, Walmart, Target and others boosted sales by offering deep discounts along with Amazon Prime Day and other competitive promotions. According to Adobe Analytics, consumers spent $12.7 billion online during the two-day sales event in the U.S., representing 6.1 percent year-over-year growth and setting a new record.
Barbie took off as a popular search item last week. It fell from 85th to 49th on the list of top brands this Prime Day compared to last year, according to preliminary figures from the data. The top Barbie item sold during the sales event was a “Barbie” collectible doll of lead actress Margot Robbie.
As Americans look for deals, Barbie is one of the ways retailers are persuading them to look beyond the essentials.
Oliver Chen, retail analyst at Cowen, said brands have capitalized on trends such as a shift towards looser-fitting denim, a return to dressier and more tailored clothing for occasions and a growing interest in innovative makeup and skincare products.
“Every brand loves novelty because novelty creates desire,” Chen said.
Susan Fournier, a marketing professor and dean of Boston University’s business school, said Barbie is “another floating life jacket” that retailers can grab onto. The brand has built-in recognition, nostalgia that resonates across generations and free marketing baked in because of the film.
Unlike other movie-themed items, Barbie isn’t just a logo that can be plastered on T-shirts and bags, but an aesthetic that cuts through homewares, makeup and clothes, she said. Creates hope that many buyers may crave.
“We’re in a pretty messy world,” he said. “We’re in a post-Covid world, with a ton of stuff. A ton of anxiety. And then you get Barbie and it’s all rosy. And I think there’s something about her appetite. It’s deep.”
Some of the brand’s strength comes from its complex heritage, he said. Barbie is obsessed with perfection with her tiny waist, beautiful house and handsome boyfriend. Yet Barbie was also unmarried and became an astronaut before landing on the moon for the first time.
“There’s something culturally powerful about living in this heterogeneous space,” Fournier said.
Inside Bloomingdale’s pop-up shop in New York City, shoppers can find an exclusive Barbie collection of apparel and accessories from private label Aqua. The retailer’s website and nine stores carry the collection.
Barbie bump and chase beyond
Other retailers have played a similar playbook with branding inspired by pop culture.
Tapestry– Owned Coach has collaborated with beloved brands and celebrities, including Disney and the comic strip Peanuts. It featured a collection of clothing and accessories inspired by the late New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who rose to fame in the 1980s for his edgy and graffiti-inspired designs. He recently launched a new collection with actress Kirsten Dunst.
Coach CEO Todd Kahn said the company carefully chooses which partnerships make sense. She said she enjoyed seeing other brands do Barbie collaborations, but Coach decided against the partnership.
“That’s why most people use collaboration to grow faster,” he said. “We’re interested in long-term sustainability. That’s why we’ve been very selective about them with our contributions. We use them to help bring new audiences to the table. And then we measure. How sticky they are afterwards, which is very important.”
For example, he said, Coach’s Basket items attracted new and more engaged customers, bringing in about 10% more Gen Z and millennial customers than its mainline collections, bringing them to all of Coach’s stores. Encouraged to pay more price points.
Some brands seem to be getting a barbie bump — but it remains to be seen whether those customers will stick around.
Berman, Bloomingdale’s longtime chief marketing officer, said store and website traffic increases when the chain cooperates. That’s why the company’s flagship is “The Carousel,” a dedicated pop-up space that can also be purchased online.
The retailer has combined fashion, a well-known brand and a memorable experience many times before. It had a pop-up inspired by Netflix’s hit series “Bridgerton.” Several years ago, it had a “Moulin Rouge”-themed pop-up, complete with can-can dancers and an appearance by the film’s star, Nicole Kidman.
Aldo’s Amalfitano declined to share recent sales numbers or its forecast for the year. Yet like other retailers, the footwear and accessories brand has seen a reduction in discretionary spending.
She hopes sales growth and shopper engagement will continue, even when the Barbie merchandise is gone.
“It’s a burning question,” he said.
– CNBC’s Caitlin Frieda and Courtney Regan contributed to this report.