Mattel Inc. is expanding its push into China by partnering with parenting website Babytree to create an online learning platform for early childhood development. Founded in 2006, Babytree provides families in China a platform to learn and exchange ideas on early education, child development tracking and nutrition.
Reuters pointed out that the deal comes just a few days after Mattel announced it would be selling its products on Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding’s online marketplace, Tmall. Mattel is the number one toymaker in the United States — some of its most popular products include Barbie and Hot Wheels — but the brand posted holiday sales well below estimates last month amid dwindling demand in North America and intense competition from companies like Hasbro.
“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,” Mattel Chief Executive Margo Georgiadis said in a statement.
The company will be working with Babytree to provide child development assessment tools and original parenting content and development curriculum based on Mattel’s early childhood development brand, Fisher-Price. In addition, Mattel will also team up with Alibaba’s A.I. Lab to create products for child development through interactive learning.
“Play has a tremendous impact on a child’s cognitive, social and emotional growth,” said Georgiadis. “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.”