When I started shopping for strollers over 13 years ago (in 2001-2002 – ack!) I remember the top of the line stroller was a Peg Perego, and it was just north of $300. A year later, Miranda on Sex & the City got a Bugaboo Frog Stroller that cost $700, and suddenly the whole stroller world was transformed – everyone wanted one, and it sold like wildfire. There was clearly a market for extravagant, luxurious, on-trend strollers, and thus the modern baby gear world was born.
However, in time, the craze died down, and a stigma crept in. Could this stroller REALLY be worth that price tag? Bugaboo now needed to justify the price, and answer the key question: just why is a Bugaboo so expensive? This is an especially important question today, with slight price increases on the 2015 Bugaboo Cameleon, Donkey, and Buffalo strollers.
I spoke to Maria Montano, General Manager of Bugaboo North America, and I hope her answers will help to clarify just what makes a Bugaboo stroller so special.
1) The design process. Most strollers are variations on a generic base, with customization added by a brand. They do add some engineering and modifications, but at the core is an “off the shelf product.” Bugaboo, on the other hand, designs each stroller from the ground up. They pair a designer and an engineer to create a stroller that has that signature look and functionality that Bugaboo fans love, and this team designs the majority of the stroller components. Every piece of plastic, every rivet, every bit of fabric is Bugaboo-original, and nothing is generic, resulting in a completely unique product.
Just how in-depth does this process get? Let’s take as an example the brand-new Bugaboo Runner: jogging strollers are nothing new, but Bugaboo wanted to differentiate theirs with better functionality. So instead of pulling a braking system from a bike or another running stroller, they designed their own, to meet the specific needs of their specific design.
This process, and the manufacturing of all of these unique components, costs big bucks, and so the Bugaboo company starts out up-front with some serious costs to recoup.
2) Superior labor practices. China isn’t known for exemplary labor practices, but Bugaboo runs their own factories there and holds them to a MUCH higher standard. Maria was there a few weeks ago, and raved to me about the conditions there – they’re clean, European factories, where working hours are limited, to maintain a higher quality of life for workers. The factory also serves lunch and has workers eat together as a community, just like they do at their home office in Amsterdam. I think that’s awesome! Not cutting corners on labor costs more, but the well-being of their workers is important to Bugaboo.
3) Built to last. Have you ever pushed a Bugaboo, or repaired a Bugaboo? If you haven’t tried it, you should! They really are a thing of beauty, and each model gets a little better every year, with tweaks and upgrades that reflect customer feedback. For instance, this year’s models have a great new harness, and when the C3 came out a few years ago, they upgraded nearly all of the mechanisms in the entire stroller. They also have a 3-year warranty, but in our experience, these strollers last for years and years. Maria tells us that they say in the factories that you can push a Bugaboo stroller from Shanghai to Amsterdam and it will still be in great condition!
The end product looks simple and sleek, but there’s so much behind it: like an Apple product, there’s so much design and planning behind that ultra-modern, clean silhouette (which is, of course, also thoroughly planned, designed, and refined).
In short: with Bugaboo, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that a Bugaboo is necessarily for you (and thankfully we have amazing strollers to fit in every budget), but it does mean that if you can spring for one, you should come on over to Magic Beans and take a Bugaboo for a test drive. Compare it side by side with others, and you’ll see and feel a real difference.