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Disney Consumer Products Sets Sights On Tween Market

New York — Disney Consumer Products is making a major push to attract tweens this holiday season, according to its global electronics VP Chris Heatherly during a holiday CE and toy press preview, here, today.

Heatherly said that in the past, much of Disney’s CE offerings and the properties attached to those products, like Winnie the Pooh, were skewed towards a younger audience. He said that this year’s focus on properties like Hannah Montana, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “High School Musical” will hopefully help the company to attract a slightly older audience.

Some might think that a company so deeply associated with children might be hesitant about going after an older audience in a marketplace where makers of youth products are so often concerned about the age compression phenomenon, but Heatherly argues that Disney’s tween-targeted CE offerings are meeting the needs of a “different kind of customer.”

He said that the company is positioning themselves in areas that are growing within the CE realm by offering products like digital cameras, personal media players, digital video cameras and more and are presenting these items at a lower price point than many of the traditional tech brands are.

“I think that our success will come from the fact that many parents look at an iPod and are concerned about giving something that is perceived as so high end to a kid,” he said. He explained that his company’s hope is that the lower price points and “kid-friendly designs” will meet the needs of a customer that “isn’t a candidate for an iPod.”

The company, whose line will officially launch until later this year, will make what Heatherly called its first “serious entrée” into LCD territory with the fall introduction of four 15-inch LCD TVs, each themed with a different Disney property including Pirates of the Caribbean, High School Musical, Hannah Montana and Disney Princess. They will be sold through mass retailers at suggested retail prices ranging from $249 to $299.

In the past, Disney’s focus on the TV category has been primarily in the CRT marketplace. Heatherly explained the company’s move towards LCD as a reflection of general retail trends, in which he says many retailers are showing a desire to position their own brands against LCD products.

In the audio realm, Disney will be expanding on its Mix Sticks MP3 player line with two new introductions. An updated version of its original player will be introduced at a suggested retail price of $49.99. It will have a new shape and feature designs including Pirates, Hannah Montana, Tinker Bell, High School Musical and Princess. Another addition to the Mix Stick line will be a step-up model at a suggested $69.99 that features a 1.5-inch color display.

Disney’s Mix Max personal media player, introduced last year, will be also be updated for the holidays to feature a bigger screen and preloaded Java games at a $99.99 suggested retail.

The company’s entire media player line is complemented by Disney’s recently launched Mix Central Web site (, which functions as an online media store. It sells songs and music videos from Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records and podcasts from the Disney Channel. The downloadable content is said to be compatible with all Disney Mix Stick and Mix Max players as well as any other players that support Windows DRM 10.

In a release on the site’s launch Heatherly said, “The Disney Mix line has established itself as the top media player for kids because it’s easy to use and designed specifically with kids in mind. Designing an online media store where parents can easily find and download the music their kids want was the natural next step.”

Pricing for the site’s content is competitive with other downloadable services like Apple’s iTunes. Individual songs are available at $0.99, albums start at $9.99 and music videos sell for $1.99 each.

Another major CE push for the company this fall will be in the digital imaging realm. It will complement its existing digital camera line with a digital picture frame featuring interchangeable movie- and TV-themed faceplates. There will also be a new digital camera targeted at preschoolers at a suggested $69.99.

Disney also has plans for a digital video camera with a feature that will allow users to create their own version of Disney films and include themselves in the action.