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Marvel superheroes coming to a Walgreens near you

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Marvel Entertainment announced that it will partner with Walgreens for a direct-to-retail merchandise program at 6,000-plus drug stores as part of a new strategy to expand its product lines and reach new customers.

Characters from “Spider-Man Classic”, “Iron Man Classic”, “Hulk Classic”, “Marvel Comics Retro”, “Marvel Heroes”, the “Iron Man” movie and the “Hulk” movie will grace toys, automotive accessories, pet products, photo department accessories, food gift sets, novelty candy, night lights, snow globes, holiday decorations, table and chair sets, wall decals, tumblers, posters, inflatables, flashlights and other products. Merchandise will hit shelves in spring 2010.

In 2008, Marvel rang up $5.7 billion in worldwide retail sales of its licensed merchandise. Recently, the entertainment company has found that pursuing direct-to-retail partnerships is a great way to supplement sales in tough economic times. “We’re interested in building collections and brand statements,” said Paul Gitter, president of consumer products North America. “These [alternative] retailers don’t traditionally carry licensed merchandise — they’re not interested in taking an item here and an item there. When you’re dealing directly with the retailer, you have a much greater sense of collaboration and how it ultimately looks on the shelf.”

Retailers like the direct relationship and, of course, the sense that they are getting something tailored to their specific audience. “There’s more margin in it for them, they like the collaboration and they feel there’s a sense of partnership working with the brand owners,” Gitter said.

International retailer The Carrefour Group signed a worldwide licensing agreement with Marvel for the use of its Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man characters on its textile collections. It also has international deals in place with French Connection and H&M.

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What the future has ‘in store’

BY DSN STAFF

BELLEVUE, Wash. —The Hartman Group is teaming up with GfK Custom Research North America on the launch of a new syndicated study, called Future Buy, to depict what retailing strategy will look like in the future as American shoppers emerge on the other side of the current economic crisis.

The overarching goal of the Future Buy Shopper Innovation study is to define the new meaning of “value” and determine what broad cultural values now influence and impact the way people live, shop and use products. “There are some obvious components of value [around which] consumers have historically defined [value],” Michelle Barry, SVP of The Hartman Group, explained to Drug Store News. “Quality, quantity and price—that’s the triumvirate that’s been predominant as consumers think about what value means across categories.”

The premise behind the Future Buy report is to ascertain whether that traditional definition of value has expanded or shifted within consumer minds by tracking their purchase patterns.

As of press time, the Hartman Group and GfK were only a few weeks into the project. But some of the early learnings included that, regardless of actual income, consumers are more and more becoming thrifty shoppers.

Additionally, consumers are not necessarily open to trying new products or brands these days, instead relying on products and brands they know will deliver a good experience.

The study will be available July 2009, Hartman Group and GfK reported.

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Prestige suffers, face segment strong

BY Antoinette Alexander

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. —It has been a rough road for the U.S. prestige beauty industry as beauty mavens tightened the grip on their wallets, causing sales of those products sold mainly in department stores to sag 3% in 2008, according to market research company The NPD Group.

“The economic realities of 2008 have created fundamental shifts in the behavior of our consumers and the way they approach beauty. In 2009, we recognize that while consumption will not stop for prestige beauty, it has changed. It has become and will become more careful, more selective and more meaningful,” stated Karen Grant, senior global industry analyst and VP beauty for NPD.

The decline in the U.S. prestige beauty industry was driven largely by fragrance, which experienced a 6% decline—women’s fragrance was down 5% and men’s fragrance down 8%, according to NPD.

Total U.S. prestige beauty* industry

* Prestige beauty: fragrance, makeup and skin care sold mainly in U.S. department stores.Source: The NPD Group/Beauty Trends
  SALES IN BILLIONS DOLLAR SHARE % CHG ’08 VS. ’07
Total beauty $8.38 100% -3.0%
Makeup 3.20 38 -3.0
Fragrance 2.68 32 -6.0
Skin care 2.40 29 0.0

However, sales of higher priced gift sets—those priced between $60 and $100—were a bright spot for the fragrance category. This category represented 65% of gift set sales in 2008, compared with 40% in 2005, and experienced a growth in both dollars (12%) and units (11%).

Thanks to such new brands as Viva La Juicy, Estée Lauder Sensuous, Ed Hardy and the Harajuku Lovers collection, women’s new fragrances posted a 9% boost in 2008, according to NPD.

Fragrance sales have struggled for the past few years, but a bit of a surprise, according to NPD, is the decline in the makeup category. Year 2008 marked the first time makeup products posted a decline, dropping 3% in dollars and 6% in units. All segments in the makeup category—eyes, lips and face—experienced a decline in 2008.

Natural makeup experienced a surge in prestige offerings in the past year, however. Premium-priced products in the face segment also showed strength in 2008, even as other makeup segments struggled with their premium-price offerings, the research stated.

Prestige skin care managed to stay afloat, capturing 29% dollar share of total prestige beauty sales, an additional share point over 2007. Total prestige products, which include face, body, sun and hair, generated $2.4 billion in 2008.

NPD also found that anti-aging face products grew, and products that offered specialization (e.g., allergy relief, redness and whitening/brightening) were up double digits. Premium-priced facial products ($70 and up) increased 4% from 2007.

Natural/spa/wellness skin care brands showed the strongest dollar growth of the distinctive brand types, up 6% versus the year-ago period, to $304 million.

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