Tuesday, September 13, 2016

American Girl's Dangerous Liaison With Toy 'R' Us - Forbes




“What will be the American Girl experience in a ‘shop-in-shop’ that will never have the staffing of a flagship store?” asked Chris Peterson, president of Integrated Marketing Solutions. “There seems to be a high risk of denigrating the brand if the American Girl dolls are merchandised in traditional ways and sold as commodities off the shelf.”

“This falls under the ‘You know an iconic brand is dead when — ‘ category,” said Lee Peterson, EVP of brand, strategy and design at WD Partners. “It’s kind of amazing to me that the new American Girl execs don’t get the fact that the difficulty in terms of access actually increases brand cachet and therefore allows for higher margins and continued quality.”

Continue reading.....
Thank you Ticia for the link.

24 comments:

  1. I hear what they are saying, but on the other hand...I will be getting a Wellie Wisher the next time I'm at TRU, something I probably wouldn't do normally as the closest AG store to me is 3 hours away. To not have to pay for shipping is so nice. Also, the ability to hand pick your doll is really good too. I like that there is more access to people that can't get to an AG store. :) I'm excited!

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    1. I hope that your TRU is better stocked than ours. We went in to see the Wellie Wishers display and there was only one of each of the dolls!! Not much chance to hand pick your favorite. I have to say I have been to the AG store to see the Wellie Wishers along with the display at TRU and unless you are already sold on them the only display that would impress would be at AG. I have read others reviews that said the dolls have a problem with frozen stiff joints. I would want to check that out at the store before buying one. Sharon

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    2. My daughter has an Ashlyn doll. Her first one developed a squeak in the left leg. We exchanged it for a new one at the store. They unboxed it and gave the doll to my daughter who said that the arms didn't move as smoothly as the 1st doll. It is hard to describe, they don't freeze or stick, maybe pause is a good term to use.

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  2. I suppose it's anyone's guess how this will go. I'm nervous about these changes & concerned about what this will mean for quality & quantity. I love that most AG items are available for at least a year's time. I like browsing online & through the catalogues,carefully planning my purchases. Those are a few reasons why I exclusively collect the AG brand. Then again, maybe it will be nice to get something for myself next time I take the kids to ToysRus... a little off subject, does anyone know if there will be another release before the year ends? I had thought Samantha was getting a new holiday dress...

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    1. And Kit and Rebecca reportedly have new outfits also. I would imagine something happened in China with a backorder on their arrival, so its possible there could be a small release in October - just a quick site update and maybe an email if it happens. I do hope so cause Samantha needs a holiday dress!!!!

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    2. I don't know if American Girl/Mattel was affected by this. A shipper , HanJin, from South Korea (I think) had cash flow problems. In China, they were taking the goods on the ship in exchange for payment. Here in the US, the ships were remaining out in the ocean, until things could get settled, since it meant that the dock workers, train and truck transportation would not get paid. I think it has been somewhat settled, because they declared bankruptcy here in the US. One article mentioned Best Buy, Walmart and JC Penney being affected, and it was supposed to be goods for Christmas. The article also mentioned something about in a few weeks some of the Asian countries would not be working due to a holiday or something, which might further impact delivery of Christmas items.

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  3. I feel that it will destroyed the value of the Brand and also cause them to lose customers who like what they were about before, Jills Deals and Steals and before Zuilily and before Toys R Us and before Khols. It will be just common. And those new customers they pick up there, if they gain any, will not have same spending habits as their prior loyal customers. I can see moms walking say there is not enough difference to pay the higher price of American Girl Doll over other 18 Dolls in the same Store. Atleast before they were at the Bigbox Store, they would have had to own one or borrow one to be able to compare. Lol. The joke is on Who? Who can not atleast figured that part out............ I will stop at this.........

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    1. I feel a lot of what Maxine is saying. I have not wanted to make a purchase from American Girl at their prices since this was announced. It no longer makes sense to me to pay $34 for one Anerican Girl Truly me outfit when I know it will be on sale in a few months at Toys r Us, if I even want to get it then. I paid the high AG prices because it used to be the only way to go. Irrationally, I can not justify buying this brand right now. My dollars will be going off brand to Our Generation and Etsy sellers, with the exception of Melody and Maryellen's collection. I feel like we are in the Wizard of Oz and the Wizard has been revealed. My family has been buying American Girl for 20 years! you can get about three regular outfits at Target for the price of one at American Girl. Madelon

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    2. I agree with you Maxine. AG under the Pleasanton company was a hot item and Mattel saw the money. It is obvious that Mattel had/has no plan to 'grow' the AG product. They expect people to buy it based on popularity. The articles are consistent that the Truly Me line isn't selling well. Interesting that they are getting rid of outfits and accessories for the historical line, assuming that is the line keeping them afloat. Based on Mattel's other product lines, they seem to only be interested in getting an initial sale. They don't do anything with Barbie or any other doll to 'grow' the brand. It seems like every year they release a Barbie movie, and make new Barbie dolls for that movie, encouraging kids to get a new doll every year. I choose to purchase the AG doll over all the other dolls, because I was tired of wasting my hard earned money on poor quality cheap dolls, that my daughters got frustrated with because they couldn't brush the dolls hair, they either didn't make any accessories or the accessories were of poor quality. Was the AG Mega Blok an attempt to get kids in other stores interested in AG dolls?

      It is sad that they don't acknowledge or offer gratitude to the loyal customer. The in-store buyer gets exclusive items, yet what does the online purchaser get? The rewards program is becoming joke as well. They sent me an email acknowledging my point level, but the online account doesn't agree on what level I'm at. I find it hard to believe that Mattel doesn't have programmers on staff, to correct the programming errors. This difference has everything to do with in-store purchases, yet corporate AG can 'see' purchases made in both locations, even though both don't appear in my account. But, somewhere in their system, both are merged, in order to send me an e-mail which acknowledges and reflects sales that I made in-store and online.

      In addition, I wish they would stop insulting our intelligence. In this article, the current AG CEO said they are placing the dolls in stores because that was requested. How long have all of us requested free shipping? How did they accommodate that? Most retailers that sell a specialty item, like AG, offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount and have percentage off your entire purchase sales. I don't believe the excuse of bringing the doll to more customers. If they wanted that, then why did they create the AG stores to be so nice and 'special'? Why didn't they start with a lower costing store so they could have more stores? If AG wanted more sales, then their marketing department should know how to do that, and make it happen. All companies know where and in what markets their product will sell, that is why AG is only putting Truly Me in 97 TRU. Wellie Wishers went nationwide. They partnered with Chapters and Indigo in Canada. I recently read that the Chapters in Vancouver closed. I wonder how that venture is working out. We were at the Vancouver store, to see the AG department. There were only 2 - 3 customers browsing in the AG section, compared to the rest of the store.

      Based on this article and the prior one, I did learn this, all of us that think this was a bad choice, are as smart as most of the 'experts' interviewed for this article. Second, if I want change in AG, I need to communicate with Mattel's CEO, and I need to constantly communicate my displeasure in order to achieve that change.

      Thank you Rhonda and Tricia for sharing the article.

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  4. I think that for those of us where a store is far away- this is definitely a good thing. It's easy to just pick up an outfit, etc. the closest store to me is less than 2 hrs away, but with traffic, parking, gas- it gets pricy! Plus, when I go there I undoubtedly spend WAY more $ than I planned, which makes me less likely to go. The last time I went to the store was to pick out my ivy... I prob wouldn't have even gone then, but my sister wanted to go spur of the moment to pick out her #21.


    I can see this going both ways, but it's definitely fantastic for those of us who aren't close to a store. Remember, years ago there weren't even AG stores! You had to order through the phone and doll items NEVER went on sale! Times are changing, things evolve. Let's cross our fingers that it's the right move in the long run!

    Lauren

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    1. I agree. The closest AGP to me is AGP Boston, a good 2hr drive. I'd love to have an AGP in New Hampshire, so I wouldn't have to pay sales tax OR shipping, but unfortunately there isn't a Toys R Us in my local area. There's one in Manchester, though. I'm pretty sure. My dream would be to have an store offering AG items in Lebanon, Hanover, White River Junction, or somewhere else nearby. Even if it's just a boutique, as long as it isn't going to just close at the end of the year.
      I do agree that this is going to cost AG money though.

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  5. This is a pretty scary situation for both fans and other investors. I am taking the wait and see approach because I like the company and it's legacy. However, due to that I an scared for the company and what this could mean for the future of AG and high quality dolls, accessories and clothing. Some dolls look to be of great quality, from the quality of the wig to the material of the dress or meet outfit. While other dolls and accessories have the appearance of looking sloppily or poorly put together. An example of this is Julie Albright doll's thinning wig. How is it that a doll company neglects to inspect the hair quality on a doll when the purpose of the doll is to be played with. Of course hair quality is going to matter to a child, especially when the doll itself comes with $20.00 hair accessories and an $8.00 brush. Customers love options, but not if it comes with a hefty price and a decline in quality control. Customers are depending on this merger to really work and not at the expense of misleading loyal customers and deceiving new ones who are unaware of production values.

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    1. I am going to remember the company's legacy and the joy it brought to my family in the past. Hopefully, it can survive this decision. I await third quarter results with fingers crossed. Madelon

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    2. EXACTLY!!! One of the things that makes me the maddest is the lowering of quality and inconsistency of the wigs.

      I purchased two Leas when she came out and they had nice wigs. I purchased Maryellen in March and she also has a nice wig. I purchased a TM #55 and her wig was horrible!!! So thin, I couldn't believe it!!! I got rid of her. I love the eye/hair combination but I'm scared of buying another.

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  6. I am worried because of what Mattel has done to their Ever After High and Monster High lines. Those used to be beautiful dolls with well made outfits and articulation. Now they are just cheap and completely unappealing, especially to collectors. I won't be adding any more dolls to my collections of those dolls (and my 8 year old daughter agrees). I am planning to buy what I want from AG NOW before it goes the same way. I hate to be so negative, but it doesn't look good to me. There are people posting on AG's facebook page every day asking "why is your stuff so expensive". Those people are not doll fans/collectors and won't be buying a $115 doll for their child no matter WHAT store it is in! They can put the AG next to a $25 doll and the average American will still buy the cheaper version. -Patty

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    1. Agreed. Setting themselves up for Failure in my opion.

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    2. Everyone has good points. I think that most people who didn't buy ag still won't... Although some might give into their children (I'd imagine it's easier in person!) or see the increase in quality compared to other brands. I do think people that already buy ag are likely to take advantage of it. I think it's more accessible for family picking up a gift, etc. hopefully the transition works well for AG.

      Lauren

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    3. I agree I've been hearing terrible stuff about that line and Mattel has completely lost respect from probably over 100000 people - tons of people - even more than AG possibly were into that line. Mattel as a company probably won't be around in the next decade, and if they don't do something now, the AG doll brand will be so far from collector quality that no one will be interested in buying out the brand and keeping it up. Not to mention no one could afford it unless you're Beyonce rich.

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  7. Why is your stuff so expensive? Is the question we ask often. The quality of AG has gone down. The dolls are still nice but accessories are not. Times are changing and I don't see AG lasting unless they change. I was so glad that they decided to bring Samantha back but her collection isn't that great. A lot of the collections pieces aren't in stock or they decide to take a certain piece off! I do like the WW line. Keep things the same quit changing. That's why we love AG!

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    1. This might be a little off topic, but I also liked the WW line when I first saw it. After a month, though, I realized that the colors and patterns (flowers on the playhouse for example) will be very dated in a few years in the same way Lalaloopsy stuff is now. It just won't stand the test of time. We bought two of the dolls right away but my daughter complained about the stiffness of the joints and the hard body. -Patty

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  8. My first concern is; will they maintain their excellent exchange policy for faulty goods? Or will that only apply when you buy it from AG?
    In the past, when I have purchased a set that was missing pieces, or had damaged or faulty pieces, I have been able to contact them for an exchange, and they would have a record of the purchase. How will this work with the new locations?
    And will those of us who buy from AG only (for whatever reason; location for me), be able to access amazing sales and discounts, which are a treat directly from AG? Will they match the other offers? (Unlikely!)
    In the past, for most customers, and recipients of dolls, because they were so special, you felt you had to look after them so carefully. Buying (almost anything) from Toy R Us, does not generate the same kind of protective response. I want everyone to treasure their dolls always!
    April

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  9. What sucks is that if/when this fails, it's just going to push AG to do more cost cutting measures such as lowering the quality even further to make up for this!

    I can't believe they have forgotten that the quality, the exclusivity, and the LACK of sales , which made a purchase anytime "safe" we're some of the things that made AG a good buy over the knock offs!!!

    Things like Grace's bakery prove that if you do something better than the knock offs people will pay top dollar for it.

    I think AG has just gotten lazy and greedy.

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  10. I feel that my opinion may be quite controversial to most. Yet, this may knock some sense into AG if they will have a sudden influx of complaints about quality decline and lack of sales due to the poor quality of dolls and outfits. So far the best thing to happen to AG would be Mattel selling the brand to someone who chooses quality above the quantity.

    Somarie

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