Retailers Are Thinking Pink Thanks to Barbie Resurgence

Barbiecore makes for a successful merchandising strategy
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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Barbie Swoon
Beverage company Swoon, in partnership with Mattel, launched the Barbie x Swoon Pink Lemonade, a tie-in with the "Barbie" movie.

With the recent release of the blockbuster "Barbie" movie, retailers are embracing all things pink in support of the American icon. Known as “Barbiecore,” this trend is all about embracing bright, vibrant hues — particularly the doll's signature color pink — in everyday life. Online marketing platform Semrush found that between May 2022 and May 2023, U.S. Google searches for “Barbiecore” increased by 1,581.8%.

“Everywhere you look, Barbie pink is the new black. The retail world is covered in that iconic pink, and I'm here for it,” noted Dave Bruno, director of retail market insights at retail technology company Aptos, which is based in Alpharetta, Ga. “Mattel is on its 'A' game to accessorize its blockbuster release with dozens of retail brand collaborations in franchised merchandise of all forms.”

[Read more: "How Google Searches Reflect Food Trends"]

For example, in food retail, zero-sugar beverage brand Swoon partnered with Mattel to launch Barbie x Swoon Pink Lemonade. The special-edition lemonade is sold at more than 4,000 retailers. Ten percent of the net profits from sales of the beverage will support the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which provides resources, curriculum, skills development and leadership opportunities to girls between the ages of 5 and 10 across the globe.

Italian pasta maker Pastificio Di Martino also debuted its limited-edition Barbie Collection. Available at Whole Foods Market and Kings Food Marketsvarieties include spaghetti, macaroni, farfalle and orzo.  

“For most of us, anything Barbie harkens back to happier times. Not surprisingly, retailers are all in on the pink promotions and collaborations for this blockbuster-timed release,” said Bruno. “Tapping into our nostalgia-obsessed society with integrated product collaborations, store experiences and social media activations pulled directly from timeless pop-culture franchises makes for a wildly successful output of retail marketing and merchandising strategies at play,pun intended.”  

Barbie pink is even crossing over to logo and brand design. While the bright hue has traditionally been seen as a feminine color — historically unpopular as a choice in logo and brand design  — global printing service provider VistaPrint found that the number of pink logos on its platform increased by approximately 46% over the past 12 months, with more than 600,000 logos created through its services. VistaPrint noticed that use of the color rose across a hugely eclectic array of sectors, with food and retail industries seeing the biggest increases in the use of pink in logo design.

VistaPrint has noticed an increase of the color pink within branding in the retail sector around the release of the "Barbie" movie.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based consumer insights and data company Numerator tracked purchase data to better understand the Barbiecore consumer. Compared with the average consumer, the company found that Barbie shoppers are 28% more likely to be Millennials, 11% more likely to be high income, and 61% more likely to have children. Barbie consumers are also more likely to be classified as rural middle class (20% more likely than the average consumer), with an affinity for online ordering (17% more likely). They are also 14% more likely to classify social media as their most influential touchpoint. 

Additionally, Numerator found that the top retailers for Barbie purchases are Walmart (48% of Barbie shoppers purchase their Barbie products here), Target (33%), Amazon (23%), Dollar Tree (13%) and Ross (5%). Barbie jumped from No. 85 to No. 49 on the list of top brands bought on Prime Day 2023 versus last year, according to Numerator early-read data. 

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