More bean bags are now being sold in the UK that at any time. Even during the hippie boom of the late 1960s, bean bags were something that groovy people bought, not your Mum and Dad. That has all changed in the past 10 years as beanbags have become a mainstream soft furnishing bought by thousands of families.
Whilst sales are vastly up, the same cannot be said of quality. Unlike many product areas, where todays products are vastly superior to 40 years ago, the average bean bag has not really moved on much. In fact, despite the constant evolution of the soft furnishings market, the average bean bag on sale today in the British High Street is likely be cheap, use lower grades of fabric and be stitched in a manner that does not inspire confidence.
The answer as to why the UK is seeing ever-increasing sales of bean bags at a time when there appears to be little product development is to found on the internet. Frankly, all the exciting stuff is here, not on the high street. The most visible player in the online market is BeanBagBazaar who, although a relative newcomer, have transformed the quality of bean bags on offer and, in the process, turned themselves into the biggest bean bag supplier in the UK.
We were very impressed by the underlying quality of the bean bags that BeanBagBazaar make, particularly the care taken in fabric selection and the stitching quality. Frankly, these looked like bean bags that were meant to last. So it came as no surprise to us to learn that the company has a professional management team with a background in product design and marketing. It turns out that they undertake proper customer research on new product ideas and that the production unit for prototype bean bags sits next to the marketing department. We also noted, unhappily, that many of their competitors offer products that are uncannily similar to the bean bag shapes sold by BeanBagBazaar.
The bean bags market represents an object lesson in the dangers of what happens to whole product categories when there are no champions or brand leaders. They stagnate as retailers just buy the same commodity products year-after-year at the lowest price. Thankfully, the bean bag market is now serving consumers better due to the impact of the internet.