Build-A-Bear in Numbers: 110 million animals, $400 million sales, 8 new technologies in stores

Build a bear homepageIn an extensive article in the NYT, Elizabeth Olson reports a number of interesting details on Build-A-Bear Workshop. This company is one of my favorite examples of mass customization, as it not just invented a new category and value preposition based on mass customization, but also is one of the premier examples of delivering process experience in an in-store environment.

Here are some interesting numbers on Build-A-Bear, according to the Ney York Times:

Corporate Data

  • 1997 founded
  • 110 million plush animals sold since it started
  • 296 own stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, plus several franchise outlets abroad
  • $394 million in revenue (2011), with a $17 million loss due to weak economy
  • $7.8 million of advertising spending in 2011, and $2.7 million in first six months of 2012 

Customer demographics

  • 8-year-old girl is core customer
  • 30 percent of customers are boys
  • 2-3 visits of average customer per year to create customized animal or to buy outfits.
  • 500 lost bears are returned to kids every year as bar code allows a lost animal to be tracked and returned

New store concept

  • 1st new store introduced this week in St Louis
  • 2 years of development for new store layout, working with Adrienne Weiss Corporation, a Chicago advertising agency that was part of the original brand development
  • Microsoft Kinect movement technology will allow customers to play games at large screen at the front by waving their hands in front of it 
  • 8 new technology stations in each store will increase hands-on engagement
    New “love me” touch screen where child can choose a heart for his or her stuffed animal.
    Other new options include customized sound chip and scents like chocolate chip or cotton candy that can be embedded in the stuffed animal!!


My last article of Build A Bear's European Operations is here.

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:49+00:00 September 27th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Personalization|

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.