Barbie Loses Her Market Appeal & Makes Room for Small Business

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Don't underestimate the power of the small business! Trendy and quick-to-adjust SMBs are becoming a huge threat to big, established brands.

Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at her, Barbie just turned 56. The problem is that while Mattel’s doll may not look her age, she sure acts it. She can’t get the hang of smartphones, video games and other toys the newest wave of kids really like to play with. Mattel CEO Bryan G. Stockton recently tendered his resignation after three years at the helm. Apparently, he doesn’t know what the children of the Millennials want either.

Related Article: Slaying the Goliaths: Small Business vs. Big Brands

As The New York Times reports, once dominant traditional toymakers such as Mattel and Hasbro have fallen on hard times; with brand leaders such as Barbie failing to connect with consumers. While an array of digital products have driven toy sales up 4 percent over the last year, Mattel and Hasbro have shared little of the wealth. Smaller companies have been quicker to jump on trends and are doing a better job of product development.

This problem extends beyond the toy industry. McDonald’s, which arguably invented the fast food industry, recently named a new CEO in hopes of turning its iconic brand around after successive quarters of slumping sales. Again, the problem is the Millennials, who prefer healthier, sustainable and customizable fare (the key to Chipotle’s success). The long-established burger purveyor can’t seem to provide what that generation wants, despite repeated attempts.

What’s this all mean for the small business owner?

Too Big to Succeed?

Mattel and McDonald’s are big, lumbering companies getting outmaneuvered by smaller, nimbler operators. But even small companies sometimes grow beyond their means and their capabilities. If your reach exceeds your grasp, it’s best to pull back and focus on your market niche and its needs.

Related Article: Business Lessons from the Craft Beer Boom

Marketing to Evolving Tastes

Consumer tastes constantly evolve; the Small Business Chronicle suggests that companies that have been around for a while need to evolve with them. Vitamix, for example, has been in the blender market for 90 years, but recently capitalized on food trends for healthy smoothies and juice blends. It’s not about the convenience of easy mixing, it’s about promoting a healthier lifestyle!

It’s All About Positioning

You are not a big impersonal corporation. As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, that’s what SMBs need to emphasize. The more you can personalize your products and services to your customers’ needs, the more your company will be the one the big players like Mattel and McDonald’s are worried about.

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