Mattel and Alibaba join forces

Mattel and Alibaba have entered a partnership to leverage both Mattel's iconic toy brands as well as the Chinese e-commerce giant's data and insights into the Chinese consumer base to re-shape the way parents in China think about play.

The duo plan to use Alibaba’s consumer data to develop toys and learning products specifically for the Chinese market.

Mattel will not only be marketing and selling to China via Alibaba's marketplace, it will also work with the e-commerce giant's artificial intelligence researchers to create innovative products that aid child development through the use of technology and smart, interactive learning.

In addition, the companies plan to develop digital content that will guide parents towards products and resources that aid in their child’s growth and help them "get the most out of play", the companies said.

The country’s longstanding one-child policy, although eased last year, means the majority of parents have no prior parenting experience.

"Many first-time parents are seeking advice and knowledge," said Jeff Wang, head of Mattel Greater China. Hungry for information and heavily influenced by their social-media peers and KOLs, "increasingly they hop onto the internet for guidance and advice on parenting, and to shop for quality goods for their kids."

They plan to co-develop learning resources, entertainment content based on Mattel brands and characters, and educational content on child development. The information will be available via multiple channels within Alibaba’s ecosystem such as video streaming site Youku, micro-blog site Weibo and media within Tmall and Taobao mobile apps.

"By combining Mattel's unmatched expertise in childhood learning and development, with Alibaba's immense reach and unique consumer insights, our goal is to help parents in China raise children to be their personal best," said Margo Georgiadis, CEO of Mattel, who joined the company this January.

"The multi-billion dollar toy category in China is highly fragmented, with tremendous potential for growth. Working with Alibaba, we see a terrific opportunity to develop and lead the category," she added.

The two companies will begin product development immediately, with initial availability planned for mid-2017.