By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Moving quickly toward larger sizes and more attractive designs and colors, home storage towers and racks also are fast becoming an integral part of the look of the home and home office.
"We're launching new products throughout our home storage line that truly coordinate with recent home furnishing trends — like the movement toward metals," said Liberty Malenich, associate marketing manager for the Dayton, Ohio-based Laserline division of Mead Corp.
Along with the introduction of a stylish and contemporary line of wire towers for CD and DVD collections, Laserline has become a one-stop shop for retailers looking to offer consumers a complete lineup of CD and DVD home storage products in plastic, wood and wire.
Two of the company's hottest new items are the CD 140 tower at a suggested $29.99 retail and the DVD 50 tower, at a suggested $24.99 retail.
Both products, in order to simplify the organizing and accessing of jewel boxes or DVD cases, offer wire shelves that hold 10 packaged discs each. Both feature a metallic silver finish, while the DVD tower has three easily assembled parts that fit into a conveniently sized, space-saver retail package.
Other new wire towers from the company include a CD 30 mini-tower at a suggested $10.99 retail and a CD 70 tower at a suggested $17.99 retail.
Laserline also said it is capitalizing on the highly successful redesign of its plastic tower by introducing a new spinner to the line. Called the CD100S, the product features the same subtle curves and sleek design of the plastic towers at a suggested $13.99 retail.
At the same time it is introducing new home storage products, Laserline is packaging them in a new, upscale wrap that offers lighter and softer hues that color coordinate according to product category, whether wire or plastic home storage or portable storage.
Coordinating colors include blue for the new wire tower line, gold for home storage and magenta for portable storage. All packaging is accented in rich silver and black colors.
The hottest new trend in home storage is "mixed materials — a shift to more upscale, mixed-material designs at hot price points," said Maria Angelakos, product manager at Fellowes Manufacturing, Itasca, Ill. "Consumers are looking for neutral-colored products that will coordinate with their home and/or office environment.
"Believe it or not, the hot colors are black and graphite," said Angelakos. "Based on focus-group feedback and point-of-sale results, black and graphite is the No. 1 color combination chosen. These two colors are neutral and coordinate with the new Compaq and iMac computers, as well as with any home office environment."
The first of a new line of home storage from Fellowes has strong ties to the neutral graphite color. This includes a graphite 30 CD tower, model 84210, at a suggested $19.99 retail that is currently available. Fellowes is taking orders on a graphite 140 CD tower, 84219, that will have a $69.99 suggested retail, as well as a graphite 50 DVD/25 VHS tower, 84224, that will have a $39.99 suggested retail.
"Fellowes is working in new mixed-material designs that will be ready for holiday 2001 and CES 2002," said Angelakos. "We are continuing to develop exciting, stylish products that will be launched in the marketplace at competitive price points. Fellowes will be spotlighting a new mixed-material design, which uniquely holds CDs. The material and color combinations are being fine- tuned," she said.
Growing demand for higher capacity multimedia storage products the last few years, especially among avid collectors and music aficionados, has spurred Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Atlantic to introduce 5- and 8-tier multimedia shelving units, that make up four of the 10 products in the company's multimedia line.
"We have received a number of inquiries and requests from retailers and consumers alike for higher capacity multimedia storage products," said Don Dolliver, Atlantic's VP/sales. "In addition, we have been getting feedback about the limited selection in the market. We saw the opportunity to tap this market and came up with this innovative item."
Atlantic's 5-tier shelving models 3010 and 4010, measure 30 inches high by 24 inches wide by 6 inches deep and hold up to 275 CDs, 152 DVDs or 80 VHS tapes. Suggested retail for both is $49.95. The 8-tier shelving, 3020 and 4020, which extends the height to 48 inches, stores up to 440 CDs, 228 DVDs and 120 VHS tapes. Suggested retail is $79.95.
The company also offers the penguin, a customizable multimedia storage system that includes three rods in each row that adjust independently to allow the user to store CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes. Non-slip wood dividers keep collections in place, and titles can be viewed at two different angles.
The marketplace has seen a demand shift in home storage in the last two years, with more and more consumers purchasing DVDs. As a consequence, there is also a demand for DVD storage, according to Atlantic.
"This was not a surprise, since the DVD player was introduced to the buying public," said the company's Dolliver. "It is obvious that DVD storage is not going to the portable [storage] market, but rather to the home storage category, and Atlantic is blazing a trail again in offering a number of DVD storage products to consumers."
Atlantic currently carries about 30 to 35 products for DVD needs, with suggested retails ranging from $9.95 to $99.95. Capacities range from 15 to 360 DVDs, with designs that work in both a home and home office setting. The company incorporates wood, plastic, steel and other natural components in the design and manufacture of its home storage line.
Another home storage manufacturer successfully selling larger-size home storage products is Carlsbad, Calif.-based Boltz Steel Furniture, which said its 250 DVD rack is among its top movers. The company makes CD and multimedia racks, TV and components stands and shelving.
Not all media storage manufacturers feel that towers and racks will play a key role in the future of the business. "Towers and racks for the CD jewel case have traditionally defined CD home storage solutions," said Scott Jared Oshry, founding co-president of Anaheim, Calif.-based Roundhouse, a Targus Group International company.
"However, the marketplace has demonstrated a shift away from such bulky storage devices. Demand for storage products that are 'minimalist,' compact and maximize the use of space is growing, and manufacturers need to be innovative in delivering storage solutions that reflect this trend," said Oshry.
Roundhouse sees small- and large-capacity CD wallets becoming more and more popular, as are the removable sleeves that allow consumers to interchange CDs between different storage units — for example, from a CD wallet to a stationary home storage unit. The functionality of the company's removable sleeves appeals to the consumer looking to maximize space and minimize hassle, said Roundhouse.
"Today, the average consumer owns more than 200 CDs," said Roundhouse's Oshry. "Add mobility and the desire to have your CDs with you at all times to the equation, and what you see is an increased need for organization, versatility and convenience."
For the shopper looking for a stationary home unit, Roundhouse's cdProjects-brand Roladisc, RDA100, is a perfect solution, according to the company. Roladisc, which comes in brushed-silver aluminum, serves as a high-end home unit, but its removable sleeves give it the same mobile capabilities as CD wallets and carrying cases. This adds to its functionality and space-saving features, since the sleeves eliminate the need for bulky, space-consuming jewel cases, said the company.
The Roladisc, which holds up to 100 CDs or 50 with booklets, at a suggested $39.99 retail, comes with a full set of 100 double-sided BubbleSleeves that clip in and out of all home units and portable carry cases. The patented sleeves are designed to reduce contact between the delicate CD surface and storage sleeves by 50 percent, thus protecting them from dangerous dirt and dust.
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.