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You can be anything: Barbie doll sales rise in SA as movie mania grows

Barbie doll sales have spiked in South Africa as the live-action movie gains momentum. Picture: Erika Wittlieb/Pixabay

Barbie doll sales have spiked in South Africa as the live-action movie gains momentum. Picture: Erika Wittlieb/Pixabay

Published Jul 25, 2023


The pre-screening and premier launch of the live-action Barbie movie has boosted sales of Barbie dolls and related merchandise in South Africa.

And just like the movie audience, the dolls and their accessories are being snapped up by adults too.

Toys R Us has seen a 30% growth in sales of products in the Barbie category since the pre-screening of the Margot Robbie blockbuster.

“We have an active stock keeping unit (SKU) count of 110 Barbie dolls covering all themes from fashion, beauty, signature, accessories, estate, and clothing lines across our 60 stores nationwide,” says marketing manager Catherine Jacoby, adding that, as a specialist toy retailer, Toys R Us “prides itself” on carrying all the themes and ranges that Mattel South Africa brings into the country.

“In addition to this, we have five signature stores where the range is merchandised in signature glass cabinet Barbie stands to ensure we are first to market for our collectors.”

The toy market, Jacoby explains, is “massive”, and the sector of its audience fondly dubbed ‘kidults’ has seen “significant growth” over the past two years.

“This new trend referred to as ‘kidult’ toys are surging in popularity as young adults look to their childhood toys for comfort and nostalgia during difficult times.”

Last year Toys R Us launched Fan Vault for the ‘kidult’ collectors – which includes a variety of collectible toys across many nostalgic categories – and is targeted at all ages as they launch in South Africa.

Recent data suggests that there is plenty of desire to buy in the ‘kidult’ marketplace.

“With this comes plenty of opportunities for us as a toy retailer to expand our existing ranges, offering more exploration in the collectible category. And this is no different than Barbie who is now 64-years-old and still holds a place in consumers’ hearts.

“Barbie is one of our biggest brands and we work closely with the Mattel South Africa team to give our consumers the best range possible in all themes and price points available.”

Jacoby states that the retailer is focused on marketing anniversary specials and observation events, such as Barbie Month. Barbie Day is celebrated around the world on March 9, the day of the character’s birthday.