Mattel looks to vast Chinese market

By William Hennelly in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-02-16 11:58
Mattel looks to vast Chinese market

It's been a busy week for US toymaker Mattel.

On Tuesday, the California company announced a strategic partnership with Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd to develop products for Chinese e-commerce site

Mattel also announced that one of its companies, popular doll maker American Girl, would add a boy doll, a drummer named Logan Everett, to its lineup.

Mattel will market and sell to China via Alibaba's business-to-consumer marketplace, but also will be "leveraging the company's media ecosystem to develop and promote learning resources and educational content - inspired by Mattel's beloved brands and characters - to help parents and families get the most out of play," the company said in a statement.

Mattel also will work with Alibaba's artificial intelligence lab to develop products designed to aid child development through the use of technology and interactive learning.

"Play has a tremendous impact on a child's cognitive, social and emotional growth," said Margo Georgiadis, a former Google executive who took over as Mattel CEO on Feb 8. "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."

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba CEO, said the company looks forward to "supporting Mattel's growth through our robust data and commerce technology infrastructure, which will help to elevate their overall business from product development to brand-building to rural penetration for this unique and massive market".

Georgiadis added that "the multibillion 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."

Mainland parents buy fewer toys for their children compared with parents in some other countries, according to Patty Wu, Mattel's vice-president of China Growth, in an article on, a website for Alibaba news. Wu said many parents believe idle play distracts them from homework and hurts academic performance.

She said that is a reason why toy sales in China underperform relative to other child-related products. The market in China for baby formula is three times that of the US, while the diaper market is 30 percent larger, according to Wu.


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