Bean bags have seen a return to coolness in the UK over the past 5 years, with lots of innovation from suppliers and a change in attitudes caused by the availability of good quality beanbag products via the internet. Gone are the days when buying a bean bag meant a trip to the local department store only to be confronted by a display of one or two bean bags that were of indeterminate quality and unclear origin. Today, large online bean bag manufacturers like BeanBagBazaar and even retailers like Amazon offer a plethora of design and size options.
Limited numbers of beanbags in faux leather and some basic colours have been available for years, but bean bags now come in an extraordinary variety of sizes, shapes, designs, prints and colours. If you have not considered a beanbag as a soft furnishing, it is probably time to think about them again. One of the best reasons for doing this is that the quality of beanbags has improved immeasurably, especially in terms of colour-fastness, fabrics and durability.
As we all start to look towards the gift giving season and the difficulties of searching out presents that are both useful and actually wanted, there are two specific areas where bean bags have gained a much greater mind share and make great gifts. I am referring to kids bean bags and gaming bean bags. The detailed analysis of the customer’s needs in both these product areas has resulted in bean bags that are specially designed for their respective markets and, not surprisingly, they are selling in large numbers.
For one major British manufacturer in particular, kids bean bags have been an area of massive growth for several years. To find out a bit more about how they innovate with a fairly generic product, I asked Bazaar Group’s Managing Director, Mark Dolder, what aspects of bean bag design had contributed to this. The first thing that was a big surprise is that they make their kids bean bags only about two thirds smaller than their adult versions, simply because kids are more restless and they have an annoying habit of getting bigger. At a basic level, this means that there is an awful lot of raw material going in. On a more technical front, they have added specific features such as water resistant and stain resistant fabrics so that the bean bags are more durable and can be used safely outside.
Where Gaming bean bags are concerned, it is a completely different approach as they are something that teenagers will tend to look after because it makes more of a statement about them. Generically, these tend to be known as gaming chairs and they are an obviously very recent type of furniture that has an almost magnetic appeal to serious gamers. The introduction of specially designed bean bags into the gaming world has one straightforward motivation for users, according to gaming industry insiders, and that is the fact that the nature of bean bags makes them uniquely comfortable when gamers will often be sat without much in the way of movement for potentially hours on end. To illustrate the excesses to which gamers go, a very popular gaming bean bag from BeanBagBazaar called the I-eX was used by a professional gamer for a full 24 hour continuous review. Mind you, I hope he took a loo break.
With bean bags looking like they’re making a serious comeback, you can at least put a tick in a few boxes in terms of presents for kids or hard core gaming teenagers this year.
Andy Atkins has been involved in the homewares industry for over 20 years as both a senior marketer and a writer and commentator. Having worked in several international markets across sectors like soft furnishing, tableware and cookware, Andy is able to draw on bags of experience and an eviable network of press and industry contacts. He still holds directorships in two companies in the sector. Over the years, he’s been published in both trade and consumer titles.