By now, any parent has likely heard about the Build-A-Bear fiasco that unfolded earlier today. They were offering a Pay Your Age day where any kid up to the age of 14 could build a bear and would only pay their age. Pretty cool! Except the whole thing went belly up before it even started.
My wife told me about it because she went. As did, it seems, half the entire world. My kids didn’t get bears. As was the case for a majority of the people that showed up. You had a lot of angry parents, disappointed kids, and overwhelmed workers. It’s all over the news. Social media coverage is everywhere, and most is very negative.
So, what went wrong? Well, it was really everything, but here’s a few highlights.
Too Good Of A Deal
Build-A-Bear is pretty expensive. You can pay upwards of $100 for a fully outfitted customized bear. So, the Pay Your Age is a fantastic deal. You’re getting probably anywhere between 50-95% off the base price. It’s a fantastic deal.
But that’s the problem, it was too fantastic of a deal. When you offer that great of a deal, everyone wants to come. My wife talked to people that had driven 90 minutes from their home. The deal was that good.
I’ve been seeing this deal all over the place for the last few days. I saw it on Facebook. News articles promoted it. The deal was on the local news. It was literally everywhere.
Normally, getting the word out is a great move except when it cause chaos. Like what happened at every mall that has a Build-A-Bear location hours ago.
Misunderstanding Their Own Product
Here’s the thing. These promos can sometimes work. Deals like this come up on Black Friday at every store everywhere. And, rarely do they lead to the chaos that you had today. But this deal was doomed from the start at Build-A-Bear. Why? Because the product itself can’t support it.
Have you ever gone in and built one of these bears? They take time. It’s not like when a customer wants a TV that’s half off and can just grab one, pay for it, and leave, even if they have to wait in line. This promo involved kids having to stay there and build the bear. This process can take a long time.
Now, they did seem to anticipate this and offered that people could buy an unstuffed bear, and come back and do the rest later. But, this was not a well thought out alternative. Kids want things now. It’s just how kids are. So, I’m sure most kids wanted to build their bears today. Plus, remember all those people that drove 90 minutes. Do you think they wanted to trek out another time to stuff the bear? Probably not.
The head honchos that planned this seemed to ignore the intricacies of their own product.
Long Term Fallout
It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Build-A-Bear. When promotions with good intentions go wrong, it can hurt a company long term. This promotion looks like it was an utter fiasco. Their Public Relations staff will likely be putting in some long hours over the next few days. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with.
Readers, did you stand in line for the Build-A-Bear promo? What was your experience? Do you think that Build-A-Bear can just shrug it off? Or will they have to deal with long term fallout? Let me know what you think in the comments below.