‘Barbie’ Owns Theaters and Energizes Retail

Recent data from Circana reveals early retail sales impact and consumer opportunities.
Jane Neal

August 14, 2023

Barbie and Ken, Mattel
Barbie and KenMattel

For anyone who’s been living under a rock, “


” is a smash hit. The film, which opened July 21, continues to

shatter multiple box office records, including surpassing $1 billion at the global box office

and seeing director, Greta Gerwig, make history as the first woman to reach the milestone.

One side effect of the film’s success is seeing oodles of pink.

License Global first covered the brewing Barbiecore

rage a year ago, while the “Barbie” movie was still in production. As the film’s impending release got closer, it inspired a host of new consumer products, marketing and according to early retail sales information from Circana, formerly The NPD Group and IRI, selling opportunities as well.

The most obvious place for sales growth was in toys.

According to Circana, Barbie was the toy industry’s top growth property for the week ending July 22. Circanca’s Retail Tracking Service also found that, in the week the movie hit theaters, Barbie products accounted for six of the top 10 doll items,

 and in that same week, Barbie took the top three spots in doll items the week the movie hit theaters. Just last week, Mattel announced


expansion of the Barbie The Movie product collection

inspired by the


film created in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures. The expanded collection of Barbie The Movie products includes new outfits for Barbie and Ken, a worse-for-wear Barbie The Movie Weird Barbie Doll and a set of Hot Wheels Barbie Corvette Die-Cast Cars.

Barbie also holds sway in the kitchen. In the cookware market, Circana reported dollar sales of pink products grew 27% in Q2 2023 vs. Q2 2022 and 652% vs. Q2 2019. 

Barbie fans have been flocking to the theaters, with many of them pulling out their pink apparel before they go. The term, “Barbie outfits,” has over 600 million views on TikTok, so obviously, many of those fans were planning well ahead. Superga released a Barbie sneaker collection in June, which was clearly a smart move. Circana reports that in the three months ending in June, unit sales of pink sneakers for adults grew 15%.  

Even Barbie books got a bump from the movie. According to Circana, Barbie licensed books’ sales value increased 53% in Q2 2023 when compared to Q1 2023 and were up 44% compared to Q2 2022. 

“It takes a legend to get the consumer excited,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor, Circana. “The ‘Barbie’ movie has created excitement that is spanning a host of industries as Barbie fans of all ages are showing their love well beyond the movie. The tie-in to movies has been one of the big influences missing from retail. We are finally beginning to see blockbusters return from their pandemic absence. The combination of star power with new and exciting products is generating a passion to purchase.”

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