What can Barbie teach us about marketing?

If you haven’t been sucked in by Barbie this summer, you must have been hiding under an Oppenheimer-shaped rock. Why? Because life in plastic, apparently really is, quite fantastic.

With reviews streaming in, women leaving the movie theatre in tears, men swooning over Gosling’s (superb by the way) Kenergy and right-wing evangelicals burning the world’s most qualified female on bonfires – it’s hard to ignore Barbz impact on 2023.

But what exactly can the Barbie movie teach us about marketing? Well as it turns out…a lot.

1. It’s all about a rocking launch…

If there’s one thing Barbie’s marketing team nailed, it was creating a buzz through a strategically thought-out launch. From the moment we learnt that Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling would play the iconic leads in Greta Gerwig’s big blockbuster, we were fed bite-sized snacks of images, set design, character announcements and gifs. All smothered in pink glittery nostalgia. This helped generate a sense of scarcity and excitement before filming had even begun – and made audiences hungry for the main event.

This is a perfect blueprint for brands to follow. You can ensure all your marketing efforts align by learning how to build anticipation, generate excitement, and captivate audiences. Creating a compelling narrative that joins people in a shared sense of exclusivity. This leaves your target audience fully immersed in the brand experience and ready to take immediate action when the launch drops.

2. Perfecting the art of segmentation…

What has been the most unique thing about Barbie’s pulling power at the box office? Range. The Barbie movie is not just targeting young girls, it’s targeting burnt-out millennials, angry Gen Z-er’s, nostalgic X-er’s and Pinot-quaffing boomers. And that’s not all. Barbie is here for the Ken’s too. The Ryan Gosling idolisers, the girl-Dads and the salmon-coloured-shirt-wearing LADS. Plus, by already being a firm ally of the LBGQT+ community, the Barbie team has it all sewn up in a fuchsia pink bow. What’s more, they know exactly what each group wants to see on the ole’ insta feed. Bravo.

To leverage the power of audience segmentation like Barbie, you need to tailor your marketing messages and strategies to resonate with specific groups. By catering to multiple segments, you’ll create more value and stronger connections with a diverse customer base. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be Scientist Barbie to figure it out either. All you need to do is research your target audiences, understand what makes them tick, and then create the content that will get their heads turning quicker than Ken when he sees a full-length faux-fur coat.

3. Knowing how to be the coolest kid in town…

Barbie went viral early. Yes, the film has an insane marketing budget, an A-list cast and one of the most recognisable brand names on the planet. But then again so did Affleck’s Batman, so listen up. Barbie’s marketing team got to work on sharing content they knew would tap into the current zeitgeist. That means sharing images and clips that are easily conjured up into relatable memes and promoting an instantly recognisable colour palette that’s effortlessly recreated on Instagram. The best part? It’s the fans who do the real content creation, generating an exclusive club that everyone wants to be a part of.

Brands can emulate this strategy and grab an audience’s attention by creating content that inspires discussion and resonates with audiences’ everyday experiences. This means content that evokes emotions, surprises, educates or entertains. All you need is one spark that hits the spot, and the mob will do the rest.

4. Always leave them wanting more…

Make no mistake, when it comes to up-selling, Mattel has not missed a single trick. Barbie merch is EVERYWHERE. From t-shirts to Dyson’s and even luxe sports cars. If it can be branded and painted pink, it can be bought for an eye-watering sum. The result? People are not just wearing Barbie, they’re living it. That means even if a brand doesn’t have the rights if you make anything pink, you’ll likely see your sales boosted as a result. Sure, it won’t last beyond Halloween season, but it will give everyone’s 2023 sales sheets a nice healthy glow.

Learn from Barbie’s merchandising expertise and maximize value by thinking beyond the initial purchase and considering the entire customer journey link. Look to offer higher-priced limited-edition versions, complementary products, or exclusive bundles to enhance the customer experience, boost revenue, and develop longer-lasting customer loyalty.

5. Don’t shy away from the storm…

We first knew that Barbie’s dream house was being brought to life in 2021. That was on the tail-end of a globally devastating pandemic and on the eve of a mounting economic crisis.  Skip to 2023 and we’re wading through the mud of even more economic upset and strife. In times of such financial instability, the first thing corporations do is cut marketing costs. Barbie did not. The result? Barbie is now the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman, ever.

When economic instability strikes, don’t back down; follow Barbie’s lead and invest, even when the storm is raging. History has shown us that during an economic downturn more opportunities arise, and new millionaires are made, giving businesses a chance to readdress the balance and grab more market share. By committing to a marketing strategy during this time you’re getting a greater share of voice, reaching a larger audience, and positioning your brand for long-term success. All you have to do is believe.

Now, we’re not saying that every marketing move you make needs to be with all the pomp and ceremony of Barbie’s never-ending glitter-ball party. But we do believe that with a little bit of Barbie-inspired marketing magic at your fingertips, you might just find a new way to unleash some creativity and engage new audiences.

Plus, if you’d like a little help…you know where to find us!