Monday, April 28, 2008

Build-a-Bear Earnings Call: Virtual World a "Conerstone of Our Long-Term Growth Strategy"

"We know that kids are using the Internet for play in increasing numbers and at younger ages," Clark continued. "The concept of virtual world online communities that immerse children in a brand-centric environment is still very early in the adoption curve. As we create synergies between our real-world stores and our new website, we believe we will be able to attract new and returning guests to our stores. We also believe that Build-A-Bearville gives us a strong platform for growth in other entertainment oriented areas for our brand."

Clark went on to outline the history of Build-A-Bearville. After a launch in December, the site hit 1 million users in just one month. Clark now reports that in 4 months, there have been over 3 million avatars created. There are no fees outside of purchasing a toy at a physical Build-A-Bear Workshop, and the avatars unlocked with the accompanying codes have no expiration date, unlike worlds like Beanie Babies 2.0 or Webkinz.

The main advantage Clark sees for Build-A-Bear in the increasingly competitive youth market, though, is the union of physical stores and a virtual world. She says the company is still in the learning phase "with regard to what programs and features work best to create synergies between the online world and our real world stores"

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