Be cheap. Beanie Babies only cost about $5 to buy. Warner purposely made them cheap so that children could buy them with their allowance. This made the toys parent-free, impulse purchases.
Sell small. Most toy makers dream of getting their products in Toys “R” Us or Walmart, but not Ty Warner. He sought out small retailers instead.
Small retailers tend to sell upscale products. Selling Beanie Babies there made the $5 toys seem less cheap.
Using small retailers also limits availability. When Walmart places orders, it buys hundreds of thousands of items and makes them available everywhere. Scarcity was a major Beanie Baby marketing element.
Personification. Every stuffed animal in Warner’s collection was given a name, a poem, and a birthday. Warner did this so kids could relate more to their Beanie Babies, like they were real pets.
Originality. When Warner introduced his first line of Beanie Babies, other toy makers mocked his products. They said the stuffed animals looked like road kill because they were limp. But Warner didn’t question his line and pursued his vision.
Privacy. Warner is a mysterious man. He’s only done a handful of interviews despite his world-wide fame. It’s been said that it’s easier to worship something that is faceless. Warner’s closed-off lifestyle creates a sense of intrigue around his brand.
Surprise. Without warning, Ty would retire a line of Beanie Babies. When an animal was retired, all production of it was halted, making the few available in stores like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. They instantly became valuable and highly desired.
The unannounced retirement tactic forced stores to stock up on every item Ty released; it also made people buy every Baby they could find, just in case it became rare and valuable.
Scarcity. Warner carefully controlled customer demand by creating a shortage of toys. After all, no one wants to collect something that’s easy to come by.
The most expensive Beanie Baby, Peanut the royal blue elephant, was sold for over $3,000 on eBay in 2000. It was one of the first in Warner’s collection and it was made “by error” with royal blue fabric. Because so few were available, it became the ultimate collectable item.
Faking death. Ty leaked to the press that all Beanie Babies “might” retire at the end of 1999. When customers heard the news, they went crazy and bought all the Beanie Babies they could find.
In the end, Warner allowed fans to save Beanie Babies from extinction. He encouraged them to vote on the website to continue their creation. This brilliant move got people involved around the world, and the uncertainty element sent sales through the roof.
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