Batteries are getting fueled with more power, a higher count within multipacks, and larger visibility at retail as supermarkets get ready for the fourth quarter.
"It's going to be as aggressive as last year," said Greg Unkrich, nonfoods buyer, Remke Markets, Covington, Ky. The retailer switched to larger eight-count and 10-count bonus packs of alkaline "heavy-duty" and "new technology" batteries, he said.
"Alkaline is where the business is," Unkrich stated. "We won't get caught short [by] not having a good price point on alkaline batteries."
Remke Markets displays its alkaline battery section featuring Rayovac, Eveready and Duracell brands in four-foot endcap fixtures. Additionally, the retailer showcases the batteries on floorstand displays and checklane blockers, including promotions in the last three weeks in December, Unkrich said.
The alkaline battery category generated $1.37 billion in dollar sales for the food, drug and mass market segments, excluding Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., during a 52-week period ending July 14, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago. Sales increased 3% from the same period last year.
Sales figures for all consumer electronic products are projected to total $96 billion in 2002, a 3% increase over last year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, Arlington, Va. The CEA predicts the continuing demand for portable devices like digital camcorders will drive battery sales up over 10% next year, said Tara Dunion, spokeswoman.
Penn Traffic, Syracuse, N.Y., is promoting its digital-ready battery offerings in November and December with loyalty card promotions on Duracell Ultra and e2 Energizer batteries in all 216 stores, said Marc Jampole, spokesman for Penn Traffic.
"With nonfood, we want items to match the mind-set that the consumer has in a supermarket, and batteries are a good fit," Jampole said.
To drive sales, Panasonic recommended placement of alkaline battery bonus packs such as "buy eight, get four free" Panasonic AA alkaline batteries on clip strips, said Christine Denning, marketing communications specialist, corporate brand marketing group, Panasonic, Secaucus, N.J.
"Importantly, food stores continue to have the greatest opportunity to be perceived as the weekly shopper's primary battery outpost," she said.
Dunion agreed. "Supermarkets are key outlets. They're everywhere, and they make it convenient for people to stock up while traveling," she said.
In addition, Denning suggested cross merchandising batteries throughout the store near appropriate products like flashlights, toys and stationery as the key battery-buying season draws closer.
At a recent SN store visit to a ShopRite in Perth Amboy, N.J., the retailer displayed hanging clip strips of 12-count blister pack Duracell CopperTop batteries, which include four free Duracell Ultra batteries for high-drain products for $8.59.
ShopRite also featured an assortment of Panasonic Digital batteries. The batteries were showcased in the greeting-card aisle along with single-use cameras to take advantage of memorable picture-taking occasions.
Energizer Holdings, St. Louis, launched the e2 battery two years ago while Duracell, a part of Gillette Co., Boston, began the first of several relaunches of Duracell Ultra CopperTop alkaline batteries last year. As demand for high-tech consumer electronics continues to surge, battery companies are keeping pace with the trends.
Duracell rolled out an improved Advanced Performance Duracell CopperTop this summer. The redesign included higher discharge efficiencies and a new internal design that allows more active ingredients to be packed into the cell, said Ann Davin, spokeswoman. Duracell also produced a new Duracell Ultra design earlier this summer to meet the power demands of digital and flash cameras and remote-control toys.
Meanwhile, Panasonic launched the PowerEdge AA-size battery specifically for digital cameras last month. It features a "breakaway wrap," which is an inner seal with perforated sections containing four batteries. The breakaway wrap allows for ease of single-battery removal while keeping the remaining batteries intact, according to Denning. The PowerEdge for Digital Cameras ranges from $4.99 to $5.99, she said.
Other retailers were not convinced of consumer demand for high-drain batteries, however. "Alkaline batteries sell as well as ever, unless you are talking about the premium batteries," said Jim McCaleb, nonfood buyer, Harmon's City, West Valley City, Utah, referring to the high-drain battery segment. "They're dead out there."