It turned out to be a perfect idea at the perfect time. At the onset of the biggest economic downturn since The Great Depression, Toledo, Ohio-based BCP Imports (Brianchild Products) introduced colored silicon bracelets shaped like animals, fruits and other objects into the market with an eye to creating a new collectible for the kids demo. Silly Bandz is, without a doubt, one of the biggest successes of the past 12 months, but what does BCP have up its sleeve to push the product past the fad phase and into longer-term territory as sales are slowing down?
“It’s been about as crazy as any company could be,” says Robert Croak, founder of BCP. “We went from one server to three, an eight-line phone system to a 48-line system, and a 12-person staff to 110 people.” As a private company, BCP Imports hasn’t released sales figures. However, it’s estimated that the explosion of the collectible bracelets, sold primarily in 24-packs retailing for US$4.95, has created a business worth upwards of US$200 million.
Why it worked
“Everyone likes to fidget and you can do whatever you want with them,” Croak says. “It’s the idle-hands theory. Also we have found that you can have hidden reasons why you would wear an elephant or another shape. It’s open to interpretation.” He adds that subsequent licensing deals made last year with Marvel, Mattel and even Justin Bieber have continued to keep the brand strong and culturally relevant.
While Croak says there is no magic formula to crafting a hot trending product in the kids space, he did have a specific marketing plan that he credits with creating the initial buzz. “We did no TV, radio or print marketing at all,” he says. “It was all social media, and it worked.” He says that US specialty chain Learning Express was the first retailer to support the products and the craze spread virally among US kids. BCP’s challenge now is to “keep coming up with innovative fun products at a fair price.”
While the furor for the Bandz reaches its natural apex and me-too products start to flood the market, Croak has plans to introduce new SKUs at New York Toy Fair this month. While Croak remains silent on new product details, he expects the expanded line to appeal to a wide-ranging demographic. “Most of the items we are launching are licensable products,” he says. “They will be tradable, wearable and usable in a lifestyle sense. It’s an exciting time for us.”