Going Home Barbie. Only in China

Monday, August 3, 2009 7:22
Posted in category Uncategorized

One of the more interesting things about China is the ability for a completely China specific product or service to be created.    That, through a little out of the box thinking some interesting brand extensions can occur.

Perhaps the most interesting find that i have come across to date is the Mattel Going Home Barbie (pictured above).

It is a product whose entire target market is in China because, as you can see through the post White Swan Barbie, it is a prouct that is given away (the product is put on the pillows of adopting families) available only to those who stay at the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou as part of their adoption stay process.

For myself, I am quite mixed on this one.  I have been in hotels where these mass adoptions take place, and it is clear that this process is an emotional one for new parents and child and to find Mattel putting themselves into the middle of this situation with a giveaway product like this unsettling for a couple reasons:

(1) Is it appropriate for Mattel to be marketing themselves in such a moment?

(2) If the doll is meant to ease the new addition into the family, then why only have a white mother?  China does not allow for single mothers to adopt anymore, and many of the families I have seen are of mixed background (i.e. not white)

It is a debate that has also been carried out online through blogs (Make “Coming Home Barbie” Available to Everyone, What do you think about adoption “barbie?”?, Going Home Barbie- another comment) and over he past 10 days through a number of offline conversations with my friends.

Yet, from my inner greedy capitalist, this product is interesting…

That through, some creative thinking, getting to know your customers intimately, that a new product can be born for the China market.  A product that would have little value (if any) in another market, but due to the varying conditions on the ground in china, a product can perform well here while perform poorly in other locations.

So, while I am personally a bit put off by the product design, delivery, and intentions, I must admit that there is something about this doll that everyone looking to develop a product in China can learn from.

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5 Responses to “Going Home Barbie. Only in China”

  1. lindalee says:

    August 11th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    How many have been made for the Chinese adoptions

  2. Rich says:

    August 11th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Linda.

    Answering your question frm 2 angles:
    1) All of these are made for Chinese adoptions

    2) There appear to be many, I would estimate in the hundreds to thousands, although I am not entirely sure.


  3. Zhou Ji-Ming says:

    November 12th, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Track the number of Americans adopting who all must pass through the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. I estimate 30%-40% stay at the White Swan, where we received ours while other groups stay at other hotels and we do not know if they received one or not.

  4. LindaLee says:

    November 13th, 2009 at 6:35 am

    What I was asking of Haow many different versions. I have found 7

  5. Rich says:

    November 13th, 2009 at 6:48 am


    Sorry.. actually, I now know the answer. It is currently in its 8th edition! I know this as my good friend has recently adopted, and was a recipient of a doll. One the back of the box it says 8th edition.

    So.. your count was right.