By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
With disc usage growing “big time,” accessories supplier Allsop is adopting new product merchandising methods to “bridge technology and décor” when storing media.
To accomplish this, the 40-year-old family-operated company has reduced its watch list of trends for portable storage buyers to three key areas — a shift in demographics; the rising use of discs, especially with cameras; and the need for a reduction of clutter in the home.
“We are going from kids to 94-year-old great-grandparents burning photo discs,” said Brett Allsop, VP/sales and marketing, about the essence of a demographic shift perceived by his company. Use of technology is shifting to video and digital “scrap-booking, women and book-club friends, and grandparents.” Also, dual-income households and empty-nester factors are pushing more women into the disc storage marketplace. “It's the soccer moms and more refined men — not boys — who now have disc collections developing,” said Allsop.
As DVD, DVD-ROM and DVD-R sales continue their meteoric rise, boosted by exploding interest in digital photography, Allsop has found typical consumers are ready to burn anything, not just music. And, at the same time, consumers, sporting an increasing interest in WiFi and Bluetooth technologies, are expecting to reduce accessories clutter in the home — namely cabling for keyboards, mice and speakers. They are looking for all-in-one functionality — DVD/PVR and mobile/camera for example — while reducing the number of MP3 music discs, said Allsop.
“Our research shows 50 percent of consumers feel the most important factor in buying storage is appearance,” said Allsop, “and that decorative home storage — products designed to blend into home décor — is one of the fastest growing categories.”
Based on these trends, Allsop sees less need for current soft-sided portable storage — mainly black nylon, plastic and rubber geared to males orfemales aged 10 to 30 as utility for audio transport; and nylon, plastic and rubber storage in colors geared to kids or teens aged 10-20. “Showing off a plastic case ends rather quickly when consumers graduate from college,” said Allsop. The company also is playing down current storage towers made of plastic, wire and cheap wood geared to males aged 15 to 25.
Allsop encourages retailers to examine whether they are over- or under-merchandised and to ask themselves if they are cannibalizing current soft-sided products. It is suggested by the company that retailers “dump duplicated SKUs,” while looking closely at demographics, and “create a true critical-mass-per-demographic, based on age, sex and income.”
To reflect new trends in media storage products, Allsop has divided its portable storage category into four distinct product segments, which include disc storage, mousepads, CD and DVD albums and Metal Art keyboard drawers, CPU caddy paper trays, and a variety of stands.
Segment one is “vivid,” which is emphasized by the descriptive words of bold, bright, accent and punch — everything that describes colors that consumers love. Mousepads have a suggested $7.99 retail and a 38-CD/18-DVD box is $10.99.
“Family portrait” welcomes technology into the home — products that fit more in the home than in an office. A wood accents tower, designed for extra storage and to clean up clutter, is $44.99 suggested retail. A Pinewood 50-CD/36-DVD container is $24.99, while a 25-CD/18-DVD unit is $15.99. A 38-CD/18-DVD wicker box is $29.99.
“Modern industrial” provides a clean and efficient look to technology and décor, helping to bridge the gap between technology and tradition. A Metal Art mousepad is $24.99, while a Metal Art Jr. monitor stand is $34.99.
“Contemporary classics” accept that technology is great, but these have to gain visual appeal by surrounding products with the look and feel of leather. A faux leather 32-CD/DVD album is $13.99, while a 64-CD/DVD unit is $24.99. A faux leather 40-DVD album is $24.99, while a 38-CD/18-DVD box with wood dowels is $15.99.
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