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12 February 2013

War of the Dolls: Barbies Most Owned, Bratz Most Wanted

Keywords: beauty, Middle East & Central Asia, kids, marketing,

From an early age girls love to play with dolls. For many years Barbie had a monopoly position in producing dolls for young girls, but recently a competitor appeared on the market: Bratz dolls. So who wins the popularity contest? Israelian researchers were curious to find out which doll girls like best, and what causes this preference. In an article in Psychology & Marketing they report that, although most girls own more Barbie than Bratz dolls, most prefer playing with Bratz. That is because they appreciate the appearance and clothing of Bratz.

Take aways

  • Girls own more Barbie dolls, yet prefer playing with Bratz.
  • The extent to which a girl is feminine or masculine determines whether she prefers Barbie or Bratz.
  • This is especially true for tween girls (10-12 years)
  • In particular, non-girlish girls prefer the appearance and clothing of Bratz
  • Appreciation of dolls is a complex matter: Different kind of dolls are favored by different kind of girls, for different aspects of the dolls (such as clothes, beauty, hair). 

Study information

  • The question?

    What are the differences in girls’ preferences for Barbie or Bratz, depending on their age and their degree of femininity and masculinity?

  • Who?

    70 Israeli girls, between the ages of 7 and 12 years (mean age 9,3 years old) of a primary school in Israel

  • Where?


  • How?

    The study consisted of two parts. In the first part, both boys and girls filled out a questionnaire. With this questionnaire, researchers tried to find out the degree of femininity and masculinity of the children. In the second part, only girls participated. The researchers took the girls to the hallway one by one, and talked with them about their doll preferences. To stimulate conversation, they showed the girls pictures of Barbie and Bratz dolls. 

Facts and findings

  • All girls reported that they had more Barbie dolls (6 dolls, on average) than Bratz dolls (3 dolls, on average).
  • However, most girls (87%) stated they liked Bratz better than Barbie, 10% had no specific preference for the one or another doll, and only 3% liked Barbie best.
  • Feminine girls had more dolls (both Bratz and Barbies) than less feminine girls.
    • Girls that scored high on femininity owned about 12 dolls, on average.
    • Girls that scored low on femininity owned about 7 dolls, on average.
  • Among the older girls, gender role orientation was most important. Surprisingly, more masculine girls liked Barbie best, while the feminine girls liked Bratz best.
  • Girls who liked Bratz better explained that they especially liked the clothes of Bratz.