By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Battery manufacturers expect to see further growth during the New Year as demand for portable electronics and cellphones continues to expand.
Merrell Tomlin, executive VP of sales at Madison, Wis.-based Rayovac, commented, "According to AC Nielsen, in 1995 the average household had five to seven portable devices. Now, the number is 14, and by 2005, it could be in the 20-plus range — so the mobile, portable society is not slowing down."
He added, "A lot of devices are being introduced — cellphones with Web access and e-mail, to name a few — that are smaller and lighter, which plays well for all of us in the business. People like their toys and those toys have to be powered.
"For the first time in the last 20 years [following Sept. 11], batteries were flat as a business," Tomlin continued. "The category has grown at 6 percent to 10 percent aggregate over the past 10 years. But, we've seen the business coming back after the first two weeks.
"Retailers are cautious about Christmas, working close to the vest. But, I think we'll see a relatively normal Christmas, because when things like this happen, people stay home and play with their toys. I really think it will return to relatively normal levels in 2002 — maybe 4 percent to 6 percent growth vs. 5 percent to 7 percent."
"The Sept. 11 tragedy was a wakeup call to the power of communications," said Fred Creamer, manager of business development for San Diego-based Sanyo Energy (U.S.A.). "Lucky victims with cellphones get through to loved ones.
"These portable devices allow maximum communication, especially in unexpected emergency situations. Manufacturers are putting together affordable packages to keep people connected in these uncertain times.
"But safety is also a concern," Creamer continued. "New York has become the first state to prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cellphones while operating a motor vehicle unless they use a hands-free device. GE/Sanyo's complete line of Hands Free accessories fit the most popular phones. The category offers a tremendous opportunity for retailers. Consumers understand the importance of communication and GE/Sanyo is dedicated to helping them achieve it."
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.