US toy company Mattel has signed a strategic partnership with ecommerce giant Alibaba in a bid to grow China’s multi-billion dollar toy market.
The deal enables Mattel to leverage Alibaba’s data and insights into Chinese consumers to market and sell its iconic brands, such as Barbie, Fisher Price, and Hot Wheels.
Mattel will have access to more than 440 million active buyers across Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms. It will also work with Alibaba’s AI Lab to develop new toys and products, which will combine cutting-edge technology and interactive learning.
Mattel will work with Alibaba to create an online parenting program, which will include learning resources, education content and entertainment content based on Mattel brands and characters. The content will be available across Alibaba platforms such as Youku, Weibo, Tmall and Taobao.
The move is part of a strategy by Mattel to “re-shape the way parents in China think about play” in a bid to boost growth within the toy market.
Chinese parents currently buy fewer toys for their children than parents in other countries because they believe playing distracts and damages children’s academic performance. The $7 billion dollar Chinese toy market is only 30% of the size of the US toy market, according to Mattel.
Margo Georgiadis, CEO of Mattel, said, “The multi-billion dollar toy category in China is highly fragmented, with tremendous potential for growth. Working with Alibaba, we see a terrific opportunity to develop and lead the category.”
“By combining Mattel’s unmatched expertise in childhood learning and development, with Alibaba’s immense reach and unique consumer insights, our goal is to help parents in China raise children to be their personal best.”
Mattel and Alibaba will begin product development immediately, with products due to launch mid-year.
Last week Mattel partnered with fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger to create a Gigi Hadid Barbie to promote the brand's latest fashion collection.