What Barbie teaches us about consumer experience

Check out the new commercial for Barbie from Mattel, an update for a brand that was increasingly perceived by the marketplace as dated and old-fashioned.

The dramatic shift: a change of focus from product to experience.

Instead of seeing girls playing with Barbie dolls, plastic and fantastic as ever, now, we’re inside the play-world of girls’ imaginations: authentic, sweet, and engaging – unlocked through interaction with the dolls.

Whether the commercial signals an authentic change of heart, or a more business-minded marketing play, the focus shifting from product to experience is a marked reorientation – one that we’re all challenged with in the healthcare space.

In the face of increasing commoditization, we can no longer rely on product and price alone to drive choice. The Barbie commercial, focused as it is on the feeling, rather than the having, is a great example of how we can reorientate. We’re not asked to judge value based on the product alone – in the case of Barbie, longer hair, better dresses, “pony now included!” etc. – but are instead asked to evaluate the product in terms of our own experience – how we will feel with the product in our lives.

It’s impactful and thought-provoking to engage in this way. And that’s a lesson we can carry with us, into all the brands we touch.


Senior Verbal Identity Consultant