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What's inexpensive, indispensable.

NEW YORK -- Unit sales of thermometers are up, but falling prices have limited the category's dollar volume gains.

Still, say chain drug retailers and suppliers, the category meats attention because it meshes so well with the trade class' health care positioning.

"Nothing is more important to new parents than the health of their babies, and thermometers are a vital at-home diagnostic tool for mothers and fathers with sick infants," remarks one chain drug category manager. "These parents know they can come to our stores and find this inexpensive and yet indispensable item for letting them know whether a child has a mild fever or, perhaps, needs immediate medical attention."

One food and drug combination store retailer has reinforced that message by cross-merchandising thermometers with baby care products. The Stop & Shop division of Ahold USA Inc. has won praise for the initiative from Sylvia Porebska, product manager for fever at BD Medical.

"You think about diapers and then you look and say, 'Oh my God I don't have a thermometer.' So I think it's a neat idea," says Porebska.

BD has followed up its launch last year of the licensed Sponge-Bob digital thermometer with this month's introduction of the Dora the Explorer 9-second digital thermometer. The company has also added a rigid thermometer to its BD Rapid Digital line.

Ear thermometers are much more expensive, according to Porebska, adding that their accuracy is questionable.

"Digital is the way to go for everyday use," she comments.

Jack Borowsky, marketing manager of Samsung Healthcare, says that with overseas factories getting into the thermometer business the speed and accuracy claims of some products are misleading.

"Let the buyer beware," adds Samsung director of sales and marketing Tim Sheehan. "Thermometers have become a commodity and price is king. Price is ruling shelf space."

According to Borowsky and Sheehan, Samsung stands behind the 10-second claim for its new Healthy Living line of thermometers with Accu-Fast technology. And the products can offer a 50% plus margin while retailing for under $10, notes Sheehan.

Unlike other products the new thermometers offer a 10-second reading no matter whether they are administered orally, rectally or under the arm, they maintain. The thermometers are available in three styles: rigid, flex tip and bendable tip.

"Samsung's primary purpose has always been to make people's lives easier through innovative product offerings using the latest technology," says Borowsky. "The new 10-second series is a perfect example of a product that delivers on its promise and is manufactured and supported by a brand people trust."

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Title Annotation:Home Diagnostics
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 16, 2004
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