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The Journey to Better Marketing: Stuffed Animal Companies and What They Offer

Pear Penguin in sweater

Who is our competition? What problems are they solving? What benefits are they offering?

I feel like these questions are really putting us in the position of Scrooge as he struggled against the Ghost of Christmas while trying to bonnet it. If it could be called a struggle when one side puts all his effort and might into overcoming the other, who is utterly unaffected by such exertions. Put me in the 100-yard dash with Usain Bolt, and I still don’t think he would call me competition.

Steiff Teddy Bears and Other Animals

So, is our competition Steiff?

Founded in 1880, Steiff is the world’s premier manufacturer of high-end toys and collectibles. Indeed, Steiff is the only “luxury” toy brand in the marketplace today. Internationally renowned for its exceptional quality, Steiff still utilizes traditional materials and proven manufacturing techniques to create its unique and highly prized products.

Steiff USA website.

Are they the only luxury toy brand in the marketplace as they claim? They use traditional materials and exceptional quality. What are the problems they are solving and benefits they are offering? They are soft, attractively priced, and from the original teddy bear company. Steiff is basically selling entrance into their exclusivity club and the ability of stuffed animals to return adults to the happier days of childhood. (A $1,295 Winnie the Pooh is labeled as for adults only.) They reach the children with animals around $20. Steiff sells nostalgia, collectability, and investment. Your children deserve the best; Steiff proclaims itself the best and has a history and collector base to back that claim. Steiff’s powerful commercial shows a teddy bear protecting a child from the dark.

Gotta Get a Gund

Founded in 1898, Gund had commercials in the 1980s. They were selling love and playfulness. Nowadays, they’re selling comfort, play, magic, heritage, quality, surprise, imagination, and love. Gund’s website sells bravery and love. Their products are huggable, and the company has been around for more than 100 years (like Steiff). Gund has stuffed animals under $10 and focuses more on their animals’ child friendliness vs. Steiff’s collectability, though both talk about how long their toys will last and are selling their heirloom status.

Ty, Inc. and Beanie Babies

Ty is the #1 plush manufacturer in the world (according to their job listings). Their Beanie Babies were so popular that Teenie Beanie Babies were featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals. People collected them throughout the 1990s, with some having thousands in their collection. Ty has capitalized on the lower income markets and built market share through their products appeal to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend on Steiff or even Gund. With a $2 Happy Meal, you get a Beanie Baby! That’s a pretty price point for anyone who’s hungry or has children; it’s also a way to get loyal customers for life. They are offering play and love as part of their Beanie Baby package! They push the collectibles a bit further by offering surprise toys in a series. The toys are hidden in a box, so you don’t know which one you’re going to get.

Stuffed Animals

The common theme for these companies is love. After all, how can you not love a stuffed animal. They make great friends, they are fun to play with, and they provide security to younger people. Being huggable is an important part of being a plushie.

Our Penguins

Our penguins are soft, cuddly, and fun. Their wings move, and they’re handmade, so every one of them is unique. Their expressions change based on how your emotions and how you perceive what they are doing. Even just standing on a shelf, our penguins speak volumes and tell a story that your heart needs to hear. You adopt our penguins; you don’t buy them.

So, our we competitors to these larger companies? We offer something none of them can compete with. Our stuffed animals are handmade with love. My wife makes them. There’s no large factory involved in our basic penguins. If you order one with clothes, those are handmade as well. Only some of the accessories, like buttons, may be purchased. Each animal is different because the eyes are hand-embroidered. Each set of eyes is designed and sewn differently. And the eyes are the window to the soul.

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‘The Calling’ Explores India and Competition in Reality TV Show

Netflix’ reality game show “The Calling” pits three Indians against each other in a test of skills and personal knowledge of each other as they travel India checking items off their bucket list and earning miles toward the Grand Experience and a scholarship. Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are the lucky contestants who are traveling together and, at least up through episode seven, nominally competing against each other.

Each almost-30-minute show begins with a challenge related to the area they have traveled to. One show, they tied ribbons on Yak horns. Another show, they tried to steal pineapples while dodging arrows shot by local hunters. The winner of the challenge gets 1,000 points and the grand experience for that show.

The losers of the challenge must curate an experience for the winner based on two choices given them. Once the two experiences are over, the winner chooses who made the better experience. That person gets to go to the grand experience with the winner and 900 miles. The person, who’s experience isn’t chosen, gets 800 miles. At the end of the season, the person with the most miles will get a scholarship.

This show works as a quick showcase of India and the possibilities of tourist travel. It also exposes parts of Indian culture that people may not be aware of. It doesn’t work as much of a competition because the dynamics of the three travelers tends to make them friends first and competitors second. It would be difficult for three people who competed in a cutthroat manner to travel together, Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are aware of this.

However, through the course of their travels, each of them faces very personal challenges, and they need the support of their traveling companions to overcome the problem. In one episode, the support actually led to the person having the problem winning the challenge. It’s inspiring and nice, and it challenges what Americans know from their own reality shows. “The Calling” shows that people can compete and do so with integrity, respect, joy, and compassion. Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are enjoying each other’s company and the experience while having fun.