Building Brand Trust

November 28, 2007

Build-A-Bear Workshop provides a unique brand experience for their diminutive customers (called “Guests”) in which they build their very own stuffed animal friend for life.


Guests to the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail locations can select from thirty different choices in stuffed animals, from bears, dogs, cats, turtles, to even dinosaurs. Then it is stuffed with fluff and checked by the guest for hugability to ensure just the right amount of stuffing is put in. Guests can put in a sound chip with either a personalized recording or pre-recorded sounds. Then guests can take a velvet plush heart and place it inside their stuffed animal, giving their new friend a life of its own, figuratively speaking. An identification chip is also inserted into the stuffed animal, to ensure that if ever lost, the animal can be returned to the rightful owner.

Guests can also choose from a variety of clothing and accessories for their new stuffed animal. Several third-party companies have partnered with Build-A-Bear Workshop to provide mini clothes, shoes, and even leather jackets. Brands like Limited Too, Sketchers, and even Harley-Davidson.

It is unfortunate, that a company that has figured out the magic in stuffed animals and customer experience has a stock price that fluctuates wildly. On the surface, this company looks like the model in customer satisfaction and management. But look behind some of their product offerings and you will find where things get disconcerting. Several of their stuffed animal options are based off of character in animated movies, like Shrek 3, Happy Feet, and more. These movie characters are popular when the movies first get released, but that popularity does not always extend to the Build-A-Bear Workshop’s stuffed ogres or penguins.

Because of these few high profile movie characters that sometimes sit on the shelves or in the storage rooms, is making financialists worried. That worry makes their stock price unpredictable, which then carries over to stockholders that get uncomfortable when the stock price drops with no warning. So, although Build-A-Bear Workshop is providing a truly unique and heart-warming product and experience, stockholders are holding their breaths as the stock price roller-coasters up and down.

It just goes to show that a company that has a great product line, unique customer experience, and overall strong brand loyalty, can still create waves in the stock market if just one or two products within their line sell slower than hoped.

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