Vying for new shoppers, Bloomingdale’s joins Barbiecore boom

As “Barbie,” the live-action movie based on the Mattel doll releases next week, dozens of brands, such as Xbox, Airbnb, and Moon Oral Beauty, have released merchandise to capitalize on Barbie’s moment. With its new contract with Mattel, Bloomingdale’s is joining the Barbiecore boom.

The department store created an online and in-store pop-up shop on 59th Street in NYC featuring an exclusive Barbie collaboration with the retailer’s Aqua clothing brand, window displays, and a beauty-styling studio. The store chain announced the collaboration on June 20 and the Instagram video gained 15,000 viewers the day after it was published, according to the analytical platform Hootsuite; it currently has over 48,000 viewers.

Bloomingdale’s intends to drive traffic to its retail location while also driving social media engagement with its pop-up experience by resharing Instagram stories from people who have visited the store. For this reason, Bloomingdale’s is keen to acquire new customers who have never been to Bloomingdale’s before, according to Frank Berman, CMO of Bloomingdale’s. The financial agreement between the brands was not disclosed.

“By setting up this Barbie collaboration, not only will we do a ton of business on the movie and the Aqua collection and all the surrounding products, but it also brings new customers into our stores and to our site who will buy other things,” said Berman, without sharing numbers.

The “Barbie” movie is not the only one being advertised by Bloomingdale’s. To diversify its content strategy and generate buzz around the upcoming Barbie movie, Mattel partnered with retailers Gap, Aldo, Forever 21, Primark, Hot Topic, and Spirit Halloween on marketing campaigns. 

The Bloomingdale’s partnership was in development since last summer, according to Josh Silverman, Mattel’s chief franchise officer and global consumer products head. As part of its marketing strategy, Mattel will share behind-the-scenes Reels of the photo shoot for the limited edition apparel on its own account, and Bloomingdale’s will respond to requests for life-sized Barbie items and wardrobe on its own Instagram account.

“It’s a great virtuous circle, great content engagement, and then that provides that incentive for people to want to be a part of it,” said Berman. 

Although Berman said that the brand is spending more on its pop-up experience than Instagram for the time being, it is unclear how much Bloomingdale’s is spending on its marketing as Berman declined to share exact figures. According to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics, the brand has spent a little over $37 million on advertising so far in 2023. Also, Mattel spent $12 million so far this year on advertising.

In addition to Nike, Tetris, Super Mario Bros., Hot Cheetos and Barbie, Hollywood is also paying attention to these brands, as studios are looking to engage millennials with a significant purchasing power now that they grew up with them. A movie based on an intellectual property can also attract consumers who already know about a brand and do not require an overarching explanation since the superhero movie genre is oversaturated in the eyes of its fans and marketers.

“The practice of retailers creating owned labels has proliferated in the past few years, as it offers an opportunity to increase share of wallet with customers, while also elevating product control and protecting margin,” said Sarah Engel, president of the advertising agency, January Digital. “Bloomingdale’s leveraging its owned Aqua line to create and release a few dozen co-branded products with Barbie The Movie allows them both exclusivity and popularity among younger shoppers by offering affordable products.”

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