‘Barbie Style’ – The New Trendsetter of Licensing Biz, An Interview with Alpassh Thaakkar

Barbie® encourages girls to dream big and inspires them to achieve it, as is evident from the brand message ‘You Can Be Anything’. She is just not a doll, she is the leading Girls Franchise in India and world-over.

Barbie is the world’s only brand which allows girls to imagine themselves as mermaid to a movie star, a fairy to a fashionista, and a princess to a president. It is no wonder that Barbie has emerged as a powerful, universal icon and is India’s #1 Girls toy brand.

As the latest licensing deal with Alpassh Thaakkar for ‘BarbieTM Style’ rolls out, we learn more about why Barbie remains one of the most successful licensed brands and why every girl loves it.

In an exclusive interview with Licensing Corner’s Leo Oommen, Franchising-Licensing Intellectual Property Solution, Founder and former country head for leading salon chains of India, Alpassh Thaakkar talks about the latest licensing deal with Mattel (Barbie) and his views on the licensing industry.

Could you tell us about the latest licensing deal with Barbie (Mattel)?

Mattel has conceptualized ‘BarbieTM Style’, which is a Barbie-themed zone in popular salons and we have a licensing agreement with Mattel for Barbie. We are seeking to set a benchmark with this concept, where multi-chain studios or premium salons will offer exclusive Barbie-themed styling and makeovers. The programme offers skin care, nail care, hair care and styling.

Alpassh Thaakkar, Founder of Franchising-Licensing Intellectual Property Solution

With the BarbieTM Lookbook, girls can live their dreams by choosing to be anything they want to be – a fairy, a gamer, a firefighter, a mermaid, a skateboarder or even a princess. It ensures a fun way for young girls to get a new look for their birthday party or just enjoy the day with their friends.

Similarly, Barbie styling and accessories encourage self-expression among young girls with the Sweet Girl, Sporty Girl and Glam Girl looks.

Who would your Target Group be?

Barbie® is a universal icon, and in India too she is the leading Toy & Lifestyle Brand for Girls. Our target group will be girls from the age of 4 to 14 years old.  Barbie is a trendsetter and girls absolutely adore Barbie. We are certain that our target audience would be excited at the proposition of BarbieTM Style in salons and studios.

How many multi-chain salons do you aim for and which major cities are your targets?

We are aiming to cover over 500 salons in over 100 cities across the nation under the Barbie Style concept. In the salon industry, there is an organized space and individual salon space, with chain stores forming a significant segment of the organized sector. We are, therefore, targeting multi-chains like Jawed Habib and many more. We will similarly also engage with individual salons as well.

What are your expectations from this licensing deal?

For kids all over the world, especially for girls, Barbie is an inspiration. We are confident that our audiences will not only love the merchandise but also the entire experience of BarbieTM Style. We’re also certain that the concept will appeal to millennial parents, especially moms, who are seeking creative ways to fuel their child’s imagination and encourage self-expression.

Celebrity Hairstylist and Hair Expert, Jawed Habib comments on the licensing deal: “Barbie has always been an inspiration for girls around the World. We are elated working with Barbie as it is one of the most trusted brands. Working with Mattel(Barbie) is a good synergy for us and we have always collaborated with Barbie in the past as well. ”

What will be your marketing strategy for ‘BarbieTM Style’?

The marketing strategy will be mostly through online and digital platforms to reach our intended audiences and showcase this latest initiative. One key area of our promotions will also be in on-boarding salons. Currently, the observable trend is that most of unisex salons see a lesser percentage of footfalls. Moms typically don’t like to take their daughters to unisex salons, preferring to take them to beauty parlors instead. ‘BarbieTM Style’ therefore presents a great opportunity to salons as well to boost footfalls and sales. We also do not want to ignore parlors and their services as we plan to expand this proposition to them as well. We’re ambitious about expanding our reach across multi-chain salons and studios as well as individual salons.

According to you, what are the key checkpoints that you should keep in mind while sealing a licensing deal?

One of the key checkpoints that you should keep in mind while sealing a licensing deal is the brand recall factor. Another factor we should check in before securing the deal is brand demand. If the brand is not as popular as compared to the other brands it would be stagnant, which would lead to the overall programme also stagnating. When there is demand for the product, people would be willing to spend on it as well. Through ‘Barbie Style’ we are creating a demand for specialized styling and accessories for young girls.

What is the USP of ‘BarbieTM Style’?

BarbieTM Style offers end to end solutions and experiences to truly bring alive a young girl’s creativity, imagination and self-expression. There is a wide range of products, services and accessories that enable young girls to emulate their favourite icon while also discovering their own, unique, individual style.

How has been your experience in the licensing industry?

India is at a very nascent stage in the licensing industry. Utilizing the license in the right way is very difficult as you need to understand the basic of what the audiences need and then you link it to licensing. It is niche market and getting into it would seem to be difficult but once you crack the code it is easy. The licensed products which are being successful are the ones which are either from reality shows or are based on animation films or shows. You need to know the right mix about what people of India need.

According to you what are the major challenges for the licensing industry?

The major challenges are public acceptance and understanding them. We need to understand the consumer and the deliverables towards them. Understanding different consumer is a challenge especially in India. In International market, per say, America, the mindset of the consumer set is the same, the language is the same and consumer expenditure is the same too. In India, it is completely different as we have different consumer mindsets, different languages and all these become a challenge for licensors who want to penetrate into the market. Understanding and implementing it becomes difficult but there’s always hope for betterment.

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