Leveraging an Established Brand in Web 2.0: I’m a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World

Posted on July 15, 2007
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

Well, I’m not really a Barbie girl. But a lot of people apparently are. Scientific American that Mattel’s Barbie Girls virtual online world is the fastest growing virtual world ever. In its first 60 days, over 3 million users have registered to be Barbie girls in a Barbie world. As Duncan Riley at TechCrunch points out, it took Second Life one year to reach 1 million registered users.

Needless to say, the growth of Barbie Girls is impressive and far surpasses the growth rates seen by services like Second Life and World of Warcraft. Duncan correctly notes that this is a crowded space and it would normally be easy to write off Barbie Girls if the numbers weren’t so stunning. He concludes that “virtual worlds are going mainstream and the user base is dramatically shifting from being predominantly male to majority female.” While I have a lot of skepticism over the long-term viability of Second Life specifically, I do agree that virtual worlds have significant appeal to certain demographics, and most importantly, it has been established that there are viable business models here. For instance, Club Penguin reportedly has projected revenues of $60 million this year and a year ago it was reported that Cyworld was generating $300,000 in revenues per day. Virtual worlds may be virtual, but the money some are able to generate is bankable in First Life.

In addition to Duncan’s conclusion, I also feel that the initial success of Barbie Girls reveals something even more important: established brands have an advantage in Web 2.0 if they leverage their brands properly. While Mattel is certainly several years late to the party in the virtual world space, its impressive growth is testament to the fact that established brands can quickly establish solid positions in new markets if they know how to exploit the strengths of their brands.

In my opinion, brands looking to leverage their position to build successful Web 2.0 products like Mattel has need to do the following:

Because the technology behind Web 2.0 products like social networks and virtual worlds is now essentially commoditized, the secret ingredient to success is not technology, it’s marketing. Web 2.0 entrants who are able to market most effectively and build a brand will succeed. Because of that, established brands have significant advantages if they know how to leverage their existing brands and positions effectively. Mattel has and I suspect that if Mattel can continue the momentum it has with Barbie Girls and build user loyalty, Barbie Girls may one day serve as a powerful case study for this.

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Netvouz
  • ThisNext
  • Reddit
  • SphereIt
  • Slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
Print This Post Print This Post


One Response to “Leveraging an Established Brand in Web 2.0: I’m a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World”

  1. Omar Ismail on July 16th, 2007 9:10 am

    Definitely agree with you that it’s about the marketing and not the technology. That goes back to your earlier post about how the myth of Web2.0 and its “low barrier to entry”.

    It should also be noted that while the virtual world space is rather crowded, a niche VWorld catering specifically to young girls is not.

    Similar to social networks, the nice virtual worlds still have chances for success. Now where’s Pimp World?

Leave a Reply