From Slanket to Snuggie: A Success Story

  • The Snuggie: A Success Story

    No longer must the nation face cold arms just to change the channel, or choose between drinking a hot beverage and nestling under the warmth of a thick throw. These simple luxuries are thanks to the besleeved blanket that seems to have wrapped itself around the entire globe. Here at Mainstreet.com, we’ve decided to explore the Cinderella story of this century’s pet rock. Photo Credit: kthread
    A Tale of Two Businesses
  • A Tale of Two Businesses

    While the Snuggie name has become intrinsically linked to the concept of a blanket with sleeves, this Allstar Products Group offering was a latecomer to the market. The Slanket, one of the earliest, and definitely the most successful of the small business incarnations, had been out for a few years before the Snuggie erupted onto the scene. Despite the difference in business models, the product has been a massive hit for both companies, on both scales. Photo Credit: Oakley Originals
    Humble Origins
  • Humble Origins

    A few years before Shawn Fanning sat in his Northeastern University dorm room creating Napster, the seed had been planted for another equally prolific invention at the University of Maine where Gary Clegg sat burrowed under a blanket watching late-night talk shows in 1997. The frigid freshman lamented his inability to change the channel from under his heavy blanket. He cut a hole in the blanket to solve the problem but then felt a chill in his arm. He and his roommate felt the glow of the proverbial light bulb — why not add sleeves? That Christmas, Clegg commissioned his mother to sew the prototype and his Slanket was born. Photo Credit: tsuacctnt
    Going Commercial
  • Going Commercial

    The Slanket spent its early years as a lone creation behind closed doors at Clegg’s home. But after graduation, he began giving them to people as gifts, who in turn wanted more to give to others and he decided to take the company commercial. The journalism and history double major had never planned a life in business, but the obvious potential for success was too strong to ignore. He said they began the patent process in 2003 and 2004, and TheSlanket.com went live in 2005. Check out Maintreet’s list of the best states in which to start a business. Photo Credit: B----Buzz
    "Not Patentable"
  • "Not Patentable"

    The young entrepreneurs learned early that this idea did not have the potential for lone success. “It’s too ambiguous of a product — like shirts or socks,” Clegg said of why the Slanket isn’t patentable. “There are not enough working parts. We knew there were going to be knock-offs if we had success, that was a given.” The Slanket found early Internet success, but he said it was when they took their creation to the trade show circuit that the business really took off. The exposure led to a deal with QVC, which inevitably led to more sleeved blankets, including the Snuggie. As strange as it is though, a sleeved blanket ranks pretty low on the oddity scale against these bizarre inventions. Photo Credit: ashkyd
    Disputed History
  • Disputed History

    While Clegg’s idea was original to him, makers of The Freedom Blanket had already been selling a similar product on a very small scale out of their New Jersey home when he started his company, making him the second commercial vendor on the scene. “I don’t really engage in that argument. There are billions of people on the planet and they are bound to come up with the same idea sometimes. The one thing we did was market it in a certain way that it gained notoriety and we built a successful business out of it,” Clegg said. Photo Credit: CarbonNYC
    The Snuggie Arrives
  • The Snuggie Arrives

    The Snuggie entered the market in 2008, with its hokey commercials making the most menial tasks seem confounding without the help of a sleeved blanket. Thanks to the direct marketing expertise of Allstar Products, a company that also claims the Topsy Turvy Upside Down Planter (seen here) and the bouffant-boosting Bumpit, the cultural phenomenon had begun. But, the makers have never claimed originality, fully acknowledging that the blanket with sleeves concept predated the Snuggie. Photo Credit: SuperFantastic
    Viral Success
  • Viral Success

    The low price of the latest embodiment drew in consumers by the thousands. The buy-one-get-one free deal at $19.95 undercut both the Slanket ($32.99) and the Freedom Blanket ($24.99). “We attribute the success of Snuggie to the combination of a useful, convenient product that is offered to consumers at an affordable price,” said Anne Flynn, Vice President of Marketing for Allstar Products Group. “The entire campaign — from the Snuggie name, creative advertisements, product designs and available colors — all combined to contribute to Snuggie’s brand success.” Photo Credit: SpecialKRB
    The power of direct response marketing
  • The power of direct response marketing

    Direct response marketing, more informally known as infomercials, picked up while traditional advertising declined in the economic downturn. Flynn said several of their products sustained or gained success through the recession thanks to the focus on economical price points. The numbers prove this beyond a doubt as the Snuggie has sold more than 20 million units in its two years of existence while the noticeably thicker and more durable Slanket has sold 1-1.5 million. Click here to find out which of today’s most famous infomercials are telling the truth. Photo Credit: ewen and donabel
    What’s in a name?
  • What’s in a name?

    Price alone cannot account for the cultural phenomenon that has swept the nation inspiring Snuggie parties and bar crawls coast to coast. Despite the numerous products on the market, the Snuggie has become to sleeved blankets what Kleenex is to tissues. “The Snuggie name captures the product’s core competency of warmth in a fun, lighthearted manner. With its similarity to the word ‘snuggle,’ consumers equate Snuggie with cozy, warm comfort,” Flynn said. But Snuggie lovers beware, there are some scammers out there looking to capitalize on the recent boom. Photo Credit: calmenda
    No ill will
  • No ill will

    Despite the soaring success of the Snuggie, Clegg doesn't resent the company, acknowledging that the competition has helped his business. While he said sales have been steadily increasing since the company’s inception, this year saw a large jump, though he also credited that to his company’s international expansion. “The competition, in the end, I think has helped us and there is a word for that in marketing — the conglomeration of scale,” he said. "There were negative aspects and positive aspects. And I think the positive outweigh the negative.” Photo Credit: journeyguy
    Slanket Expansion
  • Slanket Expansion

    While Flynn says the Snuggie brand will continue to grow (and already has with things like the Snuggie for dogs), it’s likely that the company will remain largely focused on the original product as the company represents so many other brands as well. Clegg has used the Slanket brand success as a catalyst to delve into new corners of the field. He’s taken his Slanket to 15 different countries, launched a new product on QVC that combines a pillow and a blanket under the Slanket name and expanded his lineup to include the Travel Slanket, the Siamese Slanket and the Kids Slanket. Photo Credit: theogeo
    Going Global
  • Going Global

    The easy-going snowboarder turned businessman has also created a partnership with a manufacturer out of North Carolina that owns a company in China to grow his business on the manufacturing side as well. “We’re now selling traditional home textiles internationally with our partner who has been with us for many years. We’re becoming an international manufacturer of home goods products.” Mainstreet.com gives more details on how small businesses can go global here. Photo Credit: oskay
    Lessons Learned
  • Lessons Learned

    The unlikely king of the Slanket empire said that it all comes down to balance. “For a college freshman with a great idea, I’d tell them not to rush anything and really find out what you want to do and if it’s really something you want to pursue, do you want to be working 18 hours a day on your entrepreneurial adventure?” he said. “I’ve made decisions all the way through the process, which some people who were business-trained people would say were bad decisions in a business since. Choosing A might give you so many more sales, but choosing B makes me happier, so there is always a give and take.” Photo Credit: SashaW
    Snug Life
  • Snug Life

    Beyond price, marketing and business strategy, there is something about the concept that has connected with today’s culture, and Clegg says he thinks it all boils down to an inherent desire for comfort. “We like to feel safe and warm and comfortable. It’s universal. That is the key to all its success — it is universal; every human being on the planet likes those feelings. It’s just a nice blanket that works; its functionality is great. It solves a universal problem, and it's fun and quirky and different.” Photo Credit: calmenda
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