In the early 1990s, when Beanie Babies were first introduced, they were considered the hottest toys to the millennial generation as well as collectors who were willing to put down serious dollars on the toys. How they became so popular involved marketing tactics that Beanie Babies creator, Ty Warner, is definitely not using today for his new product launch. Why Ty Warner chose to shy away from using marketing tactics that worked so well in the past for Beanie Babies is not because it is targeting a different demographic. Ty Warner’s new product launch, called Peek-A-Boo, is targeting the exact same demographic, but the new generation in that demographic wants something entirely different. They want technology.
History explains that Beanie Babies became popular because of scarcity:
Word of Mouth
Instead of launching a gorilla marketing campaign that bombards you with advertising, Beanie Babies relied solely on customer word of mouth. As a result, the toys began to show an element of mystery that initiated popular demand for the toys.
Retirement and Perceived Scarcity
Beanie Babies would often become retired and no notice was given either. For collectors, this resulted in a hurried search to find every type of Beanie Baby in order to avoid not getting a toy when they unexpectedly became unavailable. Over the course of 10 years, the fad began to fade until Ty made an announcement in 1999 that Beanie Babies would stop being manufactured. It created a frenzy to say the least, which is exactly what the toy creator wanted. The perceived scarcity that retiring the products created made the toys seem rare. Of course, in most cases, there wasn’t a real scarcity as long as a specific design was in production. The Ty factories were manufacturing toys at incredible rates where as soon as people would buy them, they made new ones.
Beanie Babies were only sold in boutique locations as opposed to large retail outlets like Toys R Us. It made them seem exclusive and created a perception of being higher-end. For Ty Warner’s company, it helped them gain more control over distribution, which created a win-win for the company and customers.
There were Beanie Baby personality traits and they even came with their own name, birthday, and poem. The most popular Beanie Babies could have easily been the bear collection. There were limited edition Canadian bear Beanie Babies, Princess Diana Bear Beanie Beanies, and more. Creating these specific individualized collections and limited edition Beanie Babies continued the perception that the toys were unique and rare.
History also explains why Beanie Babies were killed by popularity
Unfortunately, it all caught up too soon when parents started to notice their children had collected hundreds of Beanie Babies. Ball parking the money spent on the toys would make any parent shudder; especially Beanie Babies that were proposed limited edition toys.
How Peek-A-Boos plans to take over
As Peek-A-Boos were introduced in today’s market, you would assume that Ty Warner’s past marketing tactics would be the same considering how successful they were; however, they decided to focus on an entirely new marketing concept. For Peek-A-Boo, creating animals that hold mobile devices plays into the new generation within the same demographic.
Sadly, Peek-A-Boo products aren’t so much toys as they are toy holders as smartphones have come to dominate children’s play. Peek-A-Boos were designed to hold phones upright so kids can play more easily. “Kids love plush animals and they love technology, and the Peek-A-Boos change the way they interact with both,” says Ty Inc. founder Ty Warner. “Peek-A-Boos appeal to all ages and can hold all phones and mini tablets while playing games, talking on Face Time or watching videos hands free.”
Although slightly depressing, Peek-A-Boos are a more realistic purchase for children these days. And with technology and digital marketing being the driver of their new campaign, you’ll be able to check out the new product yourself.
See the new Peek-A-Boo commercial below: