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Cost-conscious consumers step up footcare segment

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales of foot care devices seem to be running rampant of late—22.9 percent growth for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 10 across food, drug and mass outlets (minus Wal-Mart), reaching a dollar volume of $389.9 million according to Information Resources Inc.

A lot of that growth, however, can be traced to Telebrands, an As-Seen-on-TV marketer that recently brought its PedEgg orb-shaped callous remover to the mass market from the direct channel. Telebrands has generated $46.9 million in mass-market sales so far.

Pull those Telebrands sales out of the mix, and the foot care device category is still growing at a healthy clip, 8.1 percent on a dollar volume of $343 million, despite a weakening economy. “The foot care piece of our business is strong in every channel,” said Steve Head, executive vice president of Implus, a company that services such specialty channels as footwear and sports retailers in addition to mass. “The fact is the numbers support, across a number of channels, that foot care is recessionary [resistant],” he said, meaning that consumers looking to cut down their discretionary spending are not yet including foot care insoles on that “can-no-longer-afford-to-buy” list.

A down economy may, in fact, be helping to drive consumers to the foot care aisle. Cash-crunched shoppers who have taken on second jobs could be looking for that additional foot comfort, and the more savvy and frugal consumers may be looking to extend the life of their footwear three months to four months through the purchase of new insoles.

Implus Footcare last month introduced a new look across its Airplus foot device line and coupled that with a new tagline: “We stand for comfort.”

Included with that brand repositioning are two new products. Airplus GelCell Insole features more than 100 massaging cushion cells that more evenly distribute pressure and provide better shock absorption. And AirPlus CoolMax helps wick moisture from the body. The CoolMax technology is licensed from Invista, Implus executives reported, and already enjoys an 82 percent brand recognition in the marketplace.

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Winn-Dixie completes 100th store remodel

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its 521 stores, Winn-Dixie Stores, on Thursday announced the completion of remodel No. 100.

The newest remodeled store, in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, is celebrating its grand opening today.

The Hialeah store showcases the company’s fresh and local strategic initiative—an updated storefront, combined with expanded produce and floral departments. The store’s deli and bakery were upgraded with a wood-burning rotisserie and bread warmer, a wing bar, an olive bar and a specialty dessert case. The store also features new energy-efficient refrigerators and frozen food cases as well as new wood flooring and a contemporary color palette.

“This is not only a milestone for our Company, but it also symbolizes the hard work and dedication of our associates and the loyalty of our customers,” stated Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “It’s all about being fresh and local—from our decor to our merchandising and marketing initiatives, we are tailoring every detail of our remodeled stores to meet the needs of neighborhoods we serve. As the remodel program moves forward, we will have a significantly stronger store base from which to compete and leverage the strength of our brand. We plan to remodel half the chain by June 2010.”

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Longs to carry GE digital cameras

BY Michael Johnsen

TORRANCE, Calif. Already distributed through Walgreens, General Imaging, the worldwide exclusive licensee for GE digital cameras, may be getting a foot in the door with CVS with Thursday’s announcement that its retail camera line is to be picked up by Longs Drug beginning in October.

Under the agreement, Longs stores will stock three models—the A730 Black, the A835 Black and the A1030 Red.

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