The Problems Of Mattel 's Failed Barbie Venture

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In 2009, Mattel opened a store celebrating 50 years of Barbie in Shanghai, China. Two years and 30 million dollars later Mattel closed the store (Wang, 2012). An analysis of the case study for Mattel’s failed Barbie venture reveals international marketing must observe local norms and cultural standards in order to be successful overseas (Nemani, 2011). This paper will discuss the problems Mattel faced in China and identify cultural issues U.S. businesses must address before attempting to sell their products internationally. This paper will also discuss how Mattel performed on the identified issues and suggest recommendations. Problems Mattel Faced The store closing in China is not the first time Mattel faced problems with international sales and Barbie. Barbie also failed to be successful in Japan in the 1960s (Pollack, 1996), and again in India 1990s (Nemani, 2011). Cultural Issues China and the United States have different business cultures, in part, because of their differences in history (Pitta, Fung, & Isberg). Harmony China has a huge population of people. Because there are so many people, their society must practice harmony or chaos would ensue. Also, China’s religious teachings of Taoism and Buddhism stress peace and nature (Pitta, Fung, & Isberg, 1999). Americans value efficiency and the bottom line. This often calls for a fast pace and quick decisions. Chinese may find this disruptive to their business culture as they take their time to implement change.

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