Well, here's news for you: Build-A-Bear is (once again) releasing a newer version of a bear while the old version is up for sale. Build-A-Bear is repackaging an old bear before the previous version is retired! This time, it's Black Lab.
But that isn't too bad - after all, many of their improvments were great. But what is troubling is the way Build-A-Bear packaged these revisions. Build-A-Bear's word choice is quite misleading: headlines such as "Just Arrived! Black Lab" and "Black Labrador arrives April 25" would lead any casual web surfer to believe Build-A-Bear was releasing a brand-new bear. But Build-A-Bear released the original Black Lab in 2001, and it hasn't retired since. Build-A-Bear simply gave the Black Lab a makover - it now has longer fur, a longer muzzle, and pink on the inside of its ears. Though Build-A-Bear had to modify its manufaturing methods, it was no excuse to bill this bear as a "Just Arrived!".
What should Build-A-Bear have done? It would have been quite easy to create a hustle-bustle around the new look of the Black Lab without misleading customers. A headline on the website such as "Come see my new look!", "I got a makeover!", or a bear news article about a "celebrity" (the Black Lab) who's updated her look would do fine. Released with some new dog clothing and new Quick Gifts featuring the Black Lab, and it would have been sufficient for attention-drawing (even for customers who don't want another bear but want new clothes). Combine this with a pet promotional (a $5 gift card to PetSmart, a free Build-A-Bear brush, or a coupon for a dog grooming being given to paying customers who meet the purchase requirement of $15 or more) and the promotion would pack a punch!
Build-A-Bear did do some things right - the Build-A-Bearville online quest, the Build-A-Bearville event with the author of a guide dog book, and partnering with a guide dog organization were all good ideas - but the delivery of their "newest furry friend" was not completely honest, and the new bear clothes recieved little attention (see Tuesday's post). I hope Build-A-Bear's integrity increases, and with that integrity I hope they see many sales.