Build-A-Bear workshop stores were first established in 1996 by Maxine Clark whose influence came from former CEO of May Department Stores who had stated, “Retailing is entertainment and the store is a stage - when customers are happy, they spend more money” ( Dess, c261). Build-A-Bear’s intentions were to differentiate themselves by giving people the feeling of bringing their teddy bear to life. You could give it a heart, a name, a wardrobe and many other personal touches. Build-A-Bear is about two things, “entertainment and customization” (c261). At the time of its introduction, following their differentiation strategy, there was not much competition for customized children’s toys. However, after the concept of customization caught on they faced competition from companies such as American Girl and Vermont Teddy Bear. American Girl was marketed to young girls who could make dolls that look like them and even buy matching clothes that the girls and the dolls could both wear. One advantage that Build-A-Bear had against American Girl was the fact that they marketed to all genders and appealed to a wide variety of ages. Parents would bring their young children, both boys and girls in to make dolls and teenagers would bring their boyfriend or girlfriends in to make customized bears as presents. You could even build a bear for your parent or grandparent. As the Build-A-Bear company grew they faced problems, such as a changing industry and a changing market which left them losing edge in their financials. Environmental Analysis. Build-A-Bear started with a handful of stores and it grew to 150 by the end of 2003. They capitalized on the upward trending consumer demand around the holidays when they would rent space in busy malls for their pop up stores. These temporary stores brought increased revenue and gave the company the idea for its current corporate strategies of expanding to more permanent stores. They had 344 stores in the US, UK, and Canada...
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