HP Changes Consumables Strategy

By Greg Scoblete On May 21 2007 - 6:00am

Hewlett-Packard will offer three lines of inkjet cartridges for most of the new printers it ships this year in an effort to streamline consumer choice.

"We've made two fundamental changes," said George Brasher, inkjet supplies director. "We've changed how we develop printers and cartridges to provide more choice and we've changed our packaging and merchandizing strategy."

The new program will not impact the company's inkjet paper products.

HP plans to migrate most of its cartridges to a new color-coded packaging which will segment its ink offerings by standard (blue), value (green) and specialty (red). The color coded system will also be rolled into its retail point-of-purchase materials and HP's own online store.

Retailers will be implementing the changes with their planogram resets, Brasher said.

The "standard" line will consist of cartridges "in the $14.99" price range for low volume home printers.

The "value" line will target higher-volume users with a lower cost-per-page than the standard line but a higher up-front host. The line includes "XL" cartridges that HP says offers three times as many prints as standard cartridges.

Lastly, "specialty" cartridges will offer improved performance for higher quality photo printing.

According to Brasher, the aggregate number of ink SKUs won't increase. Instead, twin packs will be phased out in favor of XL cartridges.

Reducing the overall number of cartridges consumers are confronted with is difficult, Brasher said, because "much of the intelligence of the printer is in the print head. There is a balancing act between adding new technology and an easy shopping experience."

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