Swot Analysis of the Build-a-Bear Workshop

12 December 2016

Venturing into an untapped market for hands-on customisation of teddy bears, Build-a-Bear has established itself as a market leader. Its success derives from its dynamic retail concept where customers create their own teddy bears from choosing the outer casing of the bear down to stitching it up, personalising it along the way. The interactive nature of the process brings out the creativity and individuality of the customer and at the same time, allows them to have fun. Build-a-Bear is family oriented and does not restrict the age of customers to below 12, hence is an ideal place to go for family bonding.

Guests enjoy the highly visual environment, the sounds and the fantasy of this special place while they create a memory with their family and friends. Why Build-a-Bear has been successful so far is probably the fact that the customer walks out of the store happy and satisfied. Due to the popularity of the Internet for networking, especially amongst today’s Internet savvy kids, Build-a-Bear has launched a virtual world- buildabearville. com- to pique their interest in their products and build customer loyalty.

There, guests can bring their furry friends to life online to play together, create their own online character, play games, chat with friends and more. Knowing the market is essential in keeping up with the changing wants of kids, which is why the “Virtual Cub Advisory Council” was created, where a panel of children gives feedback on what they would like to see in Build-a-Bear stores. To exercise their social responsibility and build more positive images, Build-a-Bear has initiated several programs that support various causes that help children, families and animals.

Stuffed with Hugs™ is an annual event that allows guests to visit the store and make a bear for free to be donated to a worthy cause. Weaknesses Due to the nature of the Build-a-Bear product, obtaining a bear comes with a price tag that may not be affordable to everyone. Thus, Build-a-Bear may be inaccessible to the lower income market. Also, Build-a-Bear may inculcate brand consciousness and materialism in young children as children may not be content with cheaper, off the shelves bears. In its bid to expand its product line, Build-a-Bear has introduced a doll product line- Friends 2B

Made- where guests can create their own fashionable friends and develop its own personalities. However they may have over diversified as a drop in spending has resulted in the impending closure of 9 Friends 2B Made stores. Instead, they should focus on the primary product, which is the Build-a-Bear Workshop. Opportunities Build-a-Bear has tied up with several companies such as Disney, where they have came up with bears such as the Hannah Montana Bear, banking on the success of the popular children show to generate sales. As such, Build-a-Bear should form more strategic partnerships to boost sales.

With huge economic growth in countries such as China and India, there is a large untapped market there for personalisation of teddy bears. In China, parents are known to spend lavishly on their only child hence expansion into these markets is highly lucrative as the citizens are increasingly affluent. Market research can be done for localisation and to cater to these markets according to their culture and tastes. Threats Children’s wants are ever-changing, with a high demand when a novel concept appears on the market and their interest dying off when something new comes along.

As such, Build a Bear may face decreasing demand when the novelty wanes off. However, the company has taken steps to ensure that there will be continued interests in their products by launching a loyalty program: visitors receive coupons, frequent-shopper discounts, and gift-with-purchase promotions. With the current demand for personalised toys, other toy makers may jump onto the bandwagon and provide similar services such as providing customised clothes that fit all makes of teddy bears.

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