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An alternative youniverse

It seems that the title of this weeks blog-Girls,girls,girls was a little too risque for some spam servers! So here’s our second attempt….

This week I’m delighted to bring you Chapter 2 in my tale of all-American retail storytellers encountered on the Westfield World Retail Study Tour.

And it would be hard to find a bigger contrast to the subject of my last blog, shootin’ huntin’ and fishin’ emporium Cabela’s, than American Girl.

A celebration of girls

American Girl’s website tells the story of Helping girls become their very best. They celebrate girls and all that they can be and at the heart of their product development is creating products and experiences to help girls grow in a wholesome way while encouraging them to enjoy their childhood.

This concept originally started from the identification of a gap in the market - dolls that looked like girls, not babies, made for 8-12 year olds. The result? A collection of dolls with their own universe – each doll has books, wardrobe and glittering array of accessories.

There are American Girl stores, a magazine and most importantly interactive experiences: girls can have tea with their dolls in the café and get their doll’s hair done at the Doll Hair Salon.

Google kindly informs me that more than twenty-three million American Girl dolls have been sold worldwide.

Doll Hair Salon

The real world doll experience

On the day I visited the store in New York a gaggle of girls jumped out of a giant pink limo to have an American Girl birthday party at the store. Must have cost the parents a pretty penny.

In California things were a little more laid back but even at 10am on a standard weekday this store was pumping. I spoke with a mum, grandma and two girls dressed head-to-toe in outfits which matched their dolls who had saved up to enjoy their special day of getting the dolls’ hair done and have tea in the café.

In-store café to have tea with your doll

There is a doll for everyone. Or every girl at least.

Historic dolls (Victorian, Pioneer and Second World War patriot), African American, Native American, twin dolls and dolls customisable with a choice of 40 skin, hair and eye colours. Choose or create the doll that’s right for you.

A mere $110 will get you a base doll and start what will be an ongoing shopping experience. You can add, add, add to your collection with accessories galore; spa chairs, lounge chairs, buddies for your dolls, matching outfits, stationery, books.

The range continues to expand exponentially with an ever changing cast to encourage you to collect even more.

The online doll experience

Innerstar University ( is where American Girl dolls to come to life online. Girls create avatars of their dolls and play fun and engaging games and activities that test their skills, courage and teach them more about themselves.

American Girl Magazine and website


American Girl taps directly into the trend of personalisation and “youniverse”. Where originally this concept was about you becoming your doll, now it’s all about your doll becoming you.

Personalisation – your doll becomes you!

American Girl harnesses a community of interest - which might seem spooky if you aren’t the core audience - that is vibrant and exciting and just spot on. They have mastered the art of retail storytelling and found ways to engage in a relevant, personal and meaningful way. All power to them.

American Girl

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