In this part, we will discuss how Ty successfully marketed Beanie Babies and what they did to ensure their place as a 90’s cultural icon. We will also discuss some cases of counterfeit beanie babies and how to detect them.
In 1995, the demand for Beanie Babies was incredible. Ever increasing, the profits for 1996 were in excess of $250 million! Not only that, the resale value of the plush toys was substantially high, due to the high collectability factor of the toys.
The success of Beanie Babies and the high demand can be credited to the marketing strategies of Ty. The company employed 10 strategies to ensure such demand. They were:
1. Simplicity: Fewer colors and fabric types lowered costs. Simplicity also appealed to the Beanie Babies’ target demographic.
2. Personification: Every Beanie Baby had a backstory, birthday and a name. This gave each toy a personality and appealed to many buyers, as many found a connection with their Beanie Babies.
3. Limiting Production: By limiting production, Ty kept the supply low, thus increasing demand.
4. Avoid Large Chain Retailers: Ty refused to allow their products to be sold in large quantities in large chain stores. Beanie Babies were instead sold in specialty shops or specific toy stores. This gave the impression that the Beanie Babies were of higher quality.
5. Reasonable Price: Even though Beanie Babies had a high reputation for quality and exclusivity, Ty kept the price of the toys low to ensure that people could afford to buy them.
6. Secrecy: Beanie Babies were at first not advertised nationally. Most of the hype came from word of mouth.
7. Surprise: Not telling people what kind of Beanie Baby will be released next, or when they would be released created a lot of speculation and hype around the company and brand.
8. Variety: There are hundreds of different types of Beanie Babies. Customers were bound to find at least one that they liked. Not to mention appeasing collectors.
9. Retirements: Retiring Beanie Babies increased their value and demand. Collectors would often pay ridiculous amounts of money just to complete their collection
10. Risk: Taking risk by going against the norm in many of his strategies has, in the end, paid off.
Counterfeit Beanie Babies
The popularity of Beanie Babies, combined with the fact that there were so many rare versions, led to a Beanie Baby counterfeit market around 1997. Cheap knock offs and fakes were often widely available.
In the late 90’s, a couple from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, was sentenced to probation, prison and fines due to their involvement with smuggling counterfeit Beanie Babies. In North Yorkshire, England, authorities seized over 6000 Princess Beanie Babies (a bear made in memory of Princess Diana) from an organized crime ring.
In the next article, we will conclude the 3-part series by talking about some of the more famous Beanie Babies in history, current beanies and licenced bears.