By  on June 8, 2007

Like most Americans, Barbie, it seems, is a cross-channel shopper.

On the 3-inch heels of the fashion doll's partnership with MAC Cosmetics, Barbie has aligned herself with girls' cosmetics maker Bonne Bell to create a beauty collection slated for the mass and midtier markets next year.

"It will be a girl-focused initiative that will bring fun to the cosmetics category," said Richard Dickson, senior vice president of marketing, media and entertainment, worldwide, for Mattel Brands, the manufacturer of the 48-year-old doll.

The collection, tailored for girls six to nine years old but also suited for preteens, marks a return to Barbie's traditional fan base. This spring, Barbie and MAC Cosmetics introduced a color cosmetics collection, called Barbie Loves MAC, for adults and a $35 MAC Barbie, which were sold in department stores and MAC boutiques. The effort got off to a robust start. Dickson noted that MAC Cosmetics sold through 70 percent of two months' worth of inventory in two weeks, and some items, including Rocking Chick Lipstick, sold out within days.

"The cultural news that we created with the Barbie Loves MAC Collection proved the timing was right to connect back to the mass market and to the youth [heritage] of the brand," said Dickson. He noted that several years ago, retailers and manufacturers discovered the youth market as an attractive audience with money to spend on the latest trends. Their enthusiasm for the younger set has waned, however, leading to a slowdown in innovation. "We are going to shake things up a bit," said Dickson. The details of the upcoming collection are still under wraps, but Dickson acknowledged that the Bonne Bell brand name would be promoted on the products and marketing materials.

Barbie, fittingly, has dabbled in beauty before. Past partnerships have included bath and body lines with Cosrich Group and Lotta Luv, and there are deals now for Barbie-branded fragrances with Puig and personal care products by Waterjel.

Inherent in beauty is a little bit of role-playing, noted Dickson, adding, "That's the fun of it."

He declared, "Barbie, when it partners with the right brands, has the power to hit a cultural nerve. No other [doll] brand can do that."

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