NEW YORK -- While mass-market-friendly movie and television properties dominated the floor at the Licensing 2001 International trade show here earlier this month, other non-entertainment properties that were showcased leaned toward a more specific audience -- the supermarket shopper. SN scoped out several opportunities for the food channel among the 4,700 properties on display, including some that are just hitting grocery-store shelves for the first time.
"Supermarkets are getting more bullish in toys, stationery, back-to-school -- and all of those categories are heavily licensed," said Carole Orgel Postal, president of COP Corp., a New York-based licensing /retail consulting firm. She said supermarkets are always looking for ways to become more family-friendly. "Licensing is a great vehicle for that, something people can relate to."
Maxine, the cantankerous greeting-card character from the Shoebox brand of greeting cards, manufactured by Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Mo., has expanded out of Shoebox and has also become a card brand in her own right. Since Shoebox cards have never been sold in supermarkets, extending the greeting-card character outside the humorous Shoebox brand has enabled Maxine to hit the grocery-store shelves for the first time this month wherever "Expressions from Hallmark" greeting cards are sold.
Since the character's demographic target is women, "The consumer base fits together," said Betty Pitts, associate product manager for the Maxine brand.
More character brands, such as Tony the Tiger, have also rolled out nonfood products in supermarkets. Kellogg's, Battle Creek, Mich., a first-time exhibitor at the show, displayed complementary cereal tools that were branded with popular cereal characters like Snap, Crackle and Pop. During the past two months, supermarkets like Albertson's, Boise, Idaho; A&P, Montvale, N.J.; and Kroger, Cincinnati, have been rolling out colorful cereal-carrying cases for $1.49 to $1.99, spoon straws for $1.49 to $1.99, and plastic cereal bowls for $3.99. The bowls feature kid-proof, suction-cup bottoms and a large lip on one side to help keep cereal on the spoon. All the products feature different Kellogg's cereal characters.
"The dominance of Kellogg's in the cereal aisle is a natural -- one enhances the other," said Bruce Aronson, president of manufacturer A. Aronson, New York. "If a license enhances a product for the consumer, then it works."
Little Golden Books, from Golden Books Family Entertainment, New York, will debut several contemporary classics in August, including titles featuring Scooby-Doo and the Cartoon Network's Dexter's Laboratory. Rich Maryyanek, senior vice president of marketing for Golden Books, said the $2.99 price point and the nostalgic quality the books evoke make them a good fit for supermarkets.
In the "Barney, Let's Go to the Zoo" video and toy tie-in promotion, which is scheduled to debut in August, supermarkets will have the opportunity to merchandise floor displays of the $14.95 video, along with a clip-strip display of three zoo-themed Barney beanbag plush toys, priced at $4.99.
Debbie Ries, senior vice president of sales for Lyrick Studios, Allen, Texas, distributor of family entertainment products like Barney, said tying kid-friendly entertainment characters in a retail setting like a supermarket is natural.
"It makes the shopping experience more enjoyable -- licensing offers a wide range of price points and has the opportunity to satisfy the child," she said.
Coppertone, manufactured by Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, N.J., will launch a line of "outdoor solutions" in 2002, complete with beach towels, sunglasses, children's apparel, footwear and beach toys, according to Joanne Loria, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the brand's licensing agent, the Joester Loria Group, New York.
"Supermarkets are looking for that impulse buy, and there's significant opportunity in the promotional sun care aisle," Loria said.