Friday, February 13, 2009

Mattel Q4 2008 Earnings: BarbieGirls MP3 Player Drove Decline

Worldwide Mattel Boys and Girls brand sales
decreased by 2% and U.S. sales dropped by 1%. Barbie in particular, saw
a 9% decline in worldwide sales with a 7% drop in the U.S. According to
CFO Kevin Farr, one of the "primary drivers of the global decline," and
the first one listed in yesterday's Q4 2008 earnings call, was the MP3
player that launched alongside the world.

The MP3 player initially offered access to exclusive content in the virtual world, but was eventually replaced by a subscription model in April when executives found that girls were more interested in the digital content than the consumer electronics device. 

irtual worlds are being pitched by some, like Build-a-Bear, as value
adds that extend the life of a toy, but the toys still have to be sold

Mattel, at least, seems to be looking for some bounce back
in 2009. It's not clear how much of that will tie in to, but it seems likely we'll see at least a few
connections to Barbie's 50th Anniversary.

"We have some exciting
plans for Barbie in her 50th. And although it wasn't a great year for
the doll category in general - I think the doll business was impacted
to some degree by maybe the Wii system or Webkinz - the fact is we have
some relatively good news on Barbie," said Bob Eckert, Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer

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