They’re cuddly, cute, and were the subject of a nationwide craze in the late 1990s. Beanie Babies quickly rose to the height of their success and became immensely popular before fading silently out of the limelight. If you remember the days of their fame, then you have probably found yourself wondering “whatever happened to the Beanie Babies craze?”
How did the Beanie Babies fad start in the first place? Was it simply a coincidence, or did the founder of Ty, Inc. use ingenious methods of planning and execution to propel his line of plush toys to their impressively popular status? Here is a closer look at the happenings behind the Beanie Baby craze.
The Beginning of the Story
The Beanie Baby story starts in the 1980s, when Ty Warner decided to start up his own stuffed animal company. Although stuffed animals are not unique in and of themselves, Warner had the idea of making them affordable enough for children to be able to save up their allowance for a couple of weeks and reward themselves with the purchase of a cute stuffed animal.
Additionally, Beanie Babies differed from other stuffed toys due to their unique filling of plastic “beans”. These beans make Beanie Babies more floppy and flexible than most types of stuffed animals, so they were unique from the start. Warner anticipated that children would love the more life-like movements of his toys, even though some people did not think his idea would take off.
Get Them While They Last
Warner adopted a brilliant marketing strategy that created a feeling of scarcity amongst his toys. He limited sales of his toys to specialty toy stores and small gift shops while avoiding big retailers. He also limited the amount of individual characters that he allowed different stores to sell each month. By creating a feeling of scarcity, collectors were encouraged to snatch up the adorable little toys before they were gone for good.
Warner also utilized the method of “retiring” Beanie Baby characters after a certain period of time. When people were informed of pending “retirement”, they would quickly go out and buy the affected toys while they still had a chance. Thanks to his clever marketing strategies, Warner helped to create a Beanie Baby frenzy that lasted for several years before fizzling out.
The Next Craze
Since Beanie Babies lost some of their luster, new toys have been taking their place. Ty now makes a range of Beanie Boos, meant to replicate baby animals, with large eyes and tiny bodies. Frozen themed toys have been extremely popular this year, and with the new Star Wars film set to release next year, new toys tied in with the film are sure to hit the market soon!