Building weather protection.
Because the need for such products can arise quickly, retailers realize they must stock adequate supplies of umbrellas, rainwear and gloves to address the needs of consumers who often make impromptu purchases under a variety of meteorological conditions.
But since space allocations are always a major concern for drug chains and other merchants, leading weather protection manufacturers, which include Chaby International Inc., Dyno Merchandise, Raines USA Corp. and totes Isotoner Corp., know they must provide innovative products that are of high quality and reasonably priced to win placement, and that they must support their lines with effective advertising and merchandising vehicles.
One key segment of the category that suppliers frequently focus on is weather protection products for children.
Mothers in search of rainwear and other items to protect their youngsters from the elements are well aware that such articles are of little use unless children can be convinced to use them. Totes has responded to that need with SplashFlash, which it bills as the world's first umbrella "specially designed for fun."
Available just in time for the back-to-school season, SplashFlash features glow-in-the-dark designs and interchangeable handles that project beams of light, allowing children to create a different look each time they use the product. One option is a light that can be twisted and bent to give the appearance of a snake. The basic unit is priced at $10; additional handles can be purchased for $7 each.
Another supplier of products for young consumers is Raines. It offers the Raineskids umbrella and the recently released "Backpack umbrella," both of which are highlighted in back-to-school promotions.
Chaby International, a unit of George R. Chaby Inc., has been involved in the general merchandise market and discount store sector for nearly three decades, supplying retailers with umbrellas and other rainwear products. It wasn't until 1992, however, that the firm shifted its attention to the chain drug arena and to supermarkets as new vehicles for distributing products that are marketed under the Weather Station brand.
Chaby vice president of sales John Bonner points to the strong performance of the company's products in chain drug stores, asserting that Chaby controls more than 35% of the weather protection business in the trade class.
Many chains, he notes, have experienced a significant increase in dollar volume in the category as a result of the Chaby program, which allows them to compete on the basis of both price and quality. He explains that drug chains used to charge average retail prices as high as $15 for such products. But through Chaby, says Bonner, weather protection items can be offered at price points as low as half that amount, generating a significant increase in unit volume while still allowing high dollar profits per sale.
Travelers -- whether they be on business trips or on vacation -- often confront inclement weather at the most inopportune time. That segment of the market is targeted by totes with its Pocket Wonder umbrella collection, which became available this month.
Similar to the company's Professional model, Pocket Wonder is lighter and more compact than its predecessor, allowing for storage in an automobile glove compartment or in a pocketbook or day planner.
A spokesman says its revolutionary design allows the 6.8-ounce product to be folded to less than 7 inches. Yet when opened the umbrella, which is made with a fabric that provides superior water repellency, opens to an arc of 42 inches. A carrying case comes with the Pocket Wonder.
Chaby, which also markets mini-umbrellas, periodically changes the color schemes for the collection: dark hues for fall and bright shades for spring and summer. Such changes, notes Bonner, are appreciated by retail customers searching for ways to change their weather protection displays to keep them fresh.
Bonner says that although such products benefit immensely from impulse sales, seasonal promotions and other programs can bring additional profits.
Chaby has developed a collegiate licensing program in which logos of major universities are displayed on ponchos and other rainwear items. The merchandise is available to drug chains through a program that allows individual store managers to choose those schools that they would like to be featured in their outlets.
Eckerd Corp. stores served as the starting point for the collegiate licensing initiative, but Bonner says the program will be available in most other drug chains by fall.
Stylish designs and bold colors are also the hallmark in parkas provided by totes.
Besides a basic parka and a fleece version, the company markets a sports parka for those engaged in active lifestyles; a wrap jacket that features a nylon print lining, shawl collar, patch pockets and hood; and a rain jacket that features a "fireman style" shiny silver buckle closure and pockets with a snap closure.
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|Publication:||Chain Drug Review|
|Date:||Aug 16, 1999|
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