The market segmentation and semiotic analysis of Barbie advertisement for pre-tween girls reveal that their advertisement is geared towards the dominant ideology which promotes the ideal image of female beauty and body type.
In America, prior to 1959, most dolls were either infants or toddlers. The Barbie doll was the first adult doll toy. She was adopted from the German doll Bild Lilli. The creator of the Barbie doll, Handler, was inspired by her daughter, who was giving adult roles to paper dolls to create a doll with a mature body. The Barbie doll was named after Handler’s daughter Barbara. Since then Barbie dolls became very popular among girls. The toy market took advantage of a child’s desire for “the whole spectrum of character licensed products” (Coulter, 2014, p.417) and as a result, they created a license for character products, which allow Barbie’s doll image to appear on clothes, magazines, board games and later on online games.
As Coulter (2014) notes, the market for children is divided into segments based on the age and gender of the child (p.417). The purpose of market segmentation in such categories as boys/girls, infants, babies, and toddlers is to sell more products. If a child uses the same toy without wanting a new one, then toy producers will have less profit. Therefore, the market is divided not just into gender, but also into age categories. For example, pre-tween boys are interested in Transformers and Hot Wheels, while girls are interested in Bratz and Barbie dolls. Younger boys are interested in Spiderman and girls are interested in Strawberry Shortcake. Market segmentation was created not only to understand the audiences and consumers but also to create a constant need for new products.
Using the Barbie advertisement, illustrated on page 6, I will demonstrate how market segmentation works in practice.