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.
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.
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 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.