By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Looking to create trendier portable storage bags, makers are revving up their assault on the triple consumer draw of style, color and composition — as fashion elements continue to play a major marketing role in the fast growing soft-bag category.
Not forgetting practicality as a primary selling tool, vendors are including a variety of widgets in and on bags. These usually are intended to upgrade serviceable usage as well as to create one-of-a-kind appeal.
Unlike so many sister consumer electronics categories, where sharp pricing plays a major role in selling and purchasing decisions, portable storage bags, due to their highly bankable perceived value, usually attract close to full margin.
A roundup of what's new from top vendors in both audio and hardware storage bags finds the traditional all-black look mainly a memory from the conservative past. Current product often embellishes black with a variety of bright, accent colors and patterns.
Case Logic describes its new TRICK collection of TW-24 CD storage wallets as "way hot and totally cool." It's the company's "most innovative foot forward to date in the audio storage arena," said Caroline Geary, product manager for audio products.
Each CD wallet in the TRICK collection — an acronym for trendy, rugged, innovative, clever and "kool" — stores 24 CDs, or 12 with liner notes, at a suggested $9.99 retail. Wallets boast everything from beaded suede to brazen dragon designs and include a horseshoe shape, orange and purple colors, silver and blue metallic glitter and orange, blue and silver flames.
Combining innovative storage with ultimate protection, Longmont, Colo.-based Case Logic is offering Strongman PDA cases, which hold and protect almost any PDA without the need for Velcro or other fabric.
The company's PLT-4, PLT-5 and PLT-8 are made of leather-like Koskin material. Each features a secure closure, business card slots and a stylus holder and each comes with Post-It notes secured by an elastic strap.
Also universally sized, Case Logic's PLT-2 is available in Koskin or a sporty blue neoprene and black material combination. It features a pen loop, cardholders and slip pockets for ease of organization.
Suggested retail for all Strongman PDA cases is $24.99.
Case Logic's CBV-12 nylon camcorder bag is designed to store and carry compact to mid-sized 8mm or digital camcorders; digital, SLR or 35mm cameras; and accessories. Multiple front and side accessories pockets are ideal for holding batteries, adapters and more. Three removable padded dividers provide a custom fit and a separate, detachable camera bag adds to the features. Suggested retail is $44.99.
Fashion-oriented products are a large part of the storage lineup at Anaheim, Calif.-based cdProjects. A 32-capacity CD case, called Jelly, is made from smooth, soft "jellybean" textured PVC. Part of a durable, funky, colorful line that is said to be ideal for kids, teens and in-betweens, Jelly is available in orange, green, pink and blue at a suggested $9.99.
The company's Flame CD case, featuring 32 and 64 capacities offers a hip "rock 'n' roll" inspired motif featuring bright yellow and red flames bursting from a gray and black background. The combination of Flame's matte and shiny "automotive" finishes will "attract groupies everywhere it goes," said cdProjects. Suggested retails are $9.99 for the 32 capacity and $14.99 for the 64.
Portable steel case maker Atlantic has switched gears, for the moment, with the introduction of four collections of soft portable storage.
The Apex collection, in contemporary black leatherette, includes CD wallets and suggested retails in 32 ($11.99), 64 ($16.99) and 96 ($21.99) sizes. CD binders come in 128 ($29.99) and 208 ($39.99) sizes. A 24 CD player case, which holds up to 24 CDs, portable CD player and accessories, is $16.99 suggested retail.
The Blueprint collection from Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Atlantic is constructed of durable PVC and neoprene. Designed for consumers who seek fashionable and elegant storage solutions at affordable prices, it includes CD wallets and suggested retails in 32 ($11.99), 64 ($16.99) and 96 ($21.99) sizes. CD binders come in 128 ($29.99) and 208 ($39.99) sizes. A 24 CD player case is $16.99 suggested retail.
A slim, circular shape and sporty reflective colors highlight Atlantic's Halogen collection. This includes a 24 CD wallet in blue, yellow and black at a suggested $9.99 retail and a 12 CD player case that holds up to 12 CDs, a portable CD player and accessories for a suggested $12.99 retail.
The company's Oxygen collection is fashionably designed and economically priced. It includes 24 and 48 CD capacities in blue and clear. Suggested retail is $6.99 for the Oxygen 24 and $8.99 for the 48.
Bolstered by the growing sales of personal CD players, Itasca, Ill.-based Fellowes is introducing a Body Glove line of CD wallets, called the Extreme.
This rugged, fashionable portable storage line, which Body Glove calls "extremely cool, extremely you," offers a solid, molded case that seals shut with a heavy-duty zipper closure. The exterior is made of rip stop nylon, while the wallet's spine has a built-in strap for ease of carrying.
Extreme CD wallets are available in sport colors — neon blue with black trim or sun yellow with black trim. All feature the Body Glove hand logo.
There are two capacities of wallets, a 32 CD at $9.99 suggested retail and 64 CD at $14.99. The line also includes a 32 CD wallet player at $14.99 suggested retail.
Color trend studies for 2002 have shown that the demand for interesting colors and special effect finishes is higher than ever, according to Philadelphia-based Computer Expressions. Consumers are on the lookout for products that appeal to the senses and present color with dimension, with metallic types topping the list.
The company has translated these trends to a new line of AudioPod CD wallets that express their sense of style as well as give the added protection of metal for transporting CD collections. Designed to have a slimmer profile than other wallets, and embossed with sleek, eye-catching design that stands out on the shelf, AudioPod holds 24 or 64 CDs inside a zippered metal shell.
Even when full to capacity, Computer Expressions' AudioPod is not bulky and provides a manageable and lightweight method to transport CDs. The product is offered in hot, metallic colors of silver, copper, blue, purple and black. Suggested retail is $10 for the 24 CD size and $16 for the 64.
Scosche Industries is first to market with its SoundKase DVD pocket system that includes two pockets per DVD movie. This takes into consideration that most DVD movies come with two discs, one for the actual movie and one for added movie scenes, director's comments, deleted scenes or even movie soundtracks.
The Oxnard, Calif.-based SoundKase, which saw the need for a multiple pocket DVD system, offers a 20, 40 and 80 DVD folders. These include, along with 2-disc capacity per movie, non-melting and self-cleaning polypro disc pockets, clear movie note pockets, molded and shock-absorbing grip spine, quick and safe disc access, mess accessories pockets, exterior label index holder and patented DVD pocket system.
Suggested retails are $17.99 for the 20 DVD, with 10 movie/game note capacity; $22.99 for the 40 DVD, with 20 movie/ game note capacity; and $34.99 for the 80 DVD, 80 movie/game note capacity.
While a majority of soft storage bags are designed for protection of CD audio, others are geared to protect a variety of consumer electronics hardware.
One such line, from Motion Systems, is its ICON computer bags. Here, the New York-based company has taken ordinary computer bags and added a whole new twist. This includes a combination of durable fashion materials, color accents and sleek styling that gives each laptop case an added edge, while maintaining function. Designed to answer consumer needs, the bags are light in weight, yet provide added protection.
The ICON — what Motion Systems calls a unique, multi-organization facility — comes with ergonomic opening, ergo zipper pulls and contour shoulder straps.
The ICON, which was designed to appeal to a wide range of consumers, includes a number of products in the line. The Metro offers sleek, modern styling for the young executive; the Traveler provides a higher end look for the style-conscious consumer; and the Transit caters to a trending customer with its high-tech-inspired design.
Others are the Euro, which suits a cosmopolitan customer with its dynamic design, and the Mobile, which offers executive appeal, with its subtle and sophisticated design.
Suggested retails are $39.99 for a Metro/Traveler case, $49.99 for a Transit file case and Euro backpack case and $99.99 for a Mobile leather notebook case. A Neo slip-in case has a $14.99 suggested retail.
RoadWired has a new launch — a fashionable, compact, carrying case designed to organize and protect a digital camera and all its accessories. Called The Pod, the case has more than 20 pockets and compartments organized in a "winged" configuration, and can be carried as either a shoulder bag or belt pack.
The digital bag, which also is suited for portable audio or handheld computing applications, has a fully padded main compartment beneath The Pod's main weather flap. This space is sized to accommodate a compact camera, MP3 player or handheld computer/ PDA.
A removable sling inside the main space, called the "hammock" by the Henrietta, N.Y.-based company, can be adjusted to properly cradle the device being carried, while optimizing interior space.
Surrounding the outside of the main compartment are the accessory "wings," which open to reveal a variety of inner pouches, elasticized organizers, bungee cords and loops that hold memory cards, batteries, cords, adapters and other small items.
Primary bag material is 1050 denier ballistic nylon with neoprene accent/protection panel outside. The interior is lined with smooth nylon pack cloth.
The Pod, which includes an adjustable shoulder strap with all metal, no-twist hardware, also includes mesh outer pockets for items that need to be readily at hand, such as mobile phone or lens cap. Weight of the 7-inch by 6.5-inch by 5-inch bag is 13 ounces, and suggested retail is $49.95. It comes in black/black, titanium/black, navy/black and red/black.
Best sellers at Whitmore Lake, Mich.-based Vanguard have always been the company's 7200 series of soft-sided camera bags, available in black Kote Skin.
To parlay this popularity, Vanguard has expanded its soft-side camera bag offerings to include two-tone polyester types. Called the 1700 series, the bags are available in dark charcoal and maroon, and, like the 7200 line, come in eight sizes.
The VGA-7105 features detachable and adjustable shoulder strap, an abundance of pockets, extra padding and quick-release buckles. Suggested retail is $49.
Blue and black colors highlight a new camera bag from Orlando, Fla.-based Naneu Enterprises, which emphasizes style, high quality and lightweight in its Naneu Pro Travelers Series bag line.
Designed for both the amateur and the pro, the TS-25 Medium Digital Video Bag is constructed of water-resistant 600 denier nylon. It features a bump-proof design; thick, light-weight padding; and has an inside mesh pocket for extra accessories. The bag, which has a lifetime warranty, also offers a detachable, non-slip strap and "tick tak" clasp for maximum security.
Naneu's Travelers Series portable bags come with free memory cards holder and AA battery holder, which attaches to the case. Suggested retail of is $34.95.
New from IC Intracom is the IC Gear Traveler Trolley Bag, model 43156, at a suggested $54 retail.
Combining fashion and function for travelers and their computers, Oldsmar, Fla.-based IC Intracom's Trolley Bag offers front-load secure laptop computer and accessories pockets, extra-large luggage area, two recessed in-line skate wheels and telescopic handle, canvas casing and matte-silver detailing.
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.