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New technology pushes battery category to change

BY Mike Duff

The recently concluded holidays prompted many drug chains to link batteries with seasonal and emerging product categories — but taking advantage of those opportunities throughout the year may require more expansive merchandising.

Battery centers remain the real focal point of battery merchandising in the category. Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger noted that they provide a specific place where consumers can go and conveniently find exactly the battery they need. “The space allotted has grown, but it’s all centralized and labeled well in the battery center,” Elfinger said. “We just let customers find the battery they needed there. We do think it’s much easier that way.”

Yet, as the battery category changes, drug chains are reconsidering their presentations. RiteAid has reworked planograms as consumer preferences have evolved, developing secondary displays, and considering ways to accommodate emerging product preferences for items, such as environmentally friendly batteries. “RiteAid has had several changes in merchandising,” noted spokesman Eric Harkreader.

Seasonal displays can play an important role in boosting battery sales, particularly as consumers often buy batteries in concert with the products that need them, if encouraged. Duracell, for one, supports seasonal sales in a multi-faceted promotional approach. “We think it’s important to drive consistent touch points that the consumer will recognize through TV and media and PR events,” said brand spokesman Kurt Iverson. “Our point-of-sale information, on-pack tags and sweepstakes opportunities in-pack help the retailer play a part in the excitement.”

The holidays provide a kind of template for seasonal battery promotions going forward, Iverson said. “Retailers can take advantage of any season by dedicating display space and extra stock to anticipate the consumer’s needs. It’s great to have extra battery displays near the items where batteries are the heart of the device — the digital camera area, the toy aisle. Making batteries visible at the check-out also can jog the consumer’s memory.”

Beside the checkout and photo departments, Energizer emphasizes end-cap sets as the best place to remind consumers of their battery needs. “Energizer Batteries are a prompted purchase, meaning shoppers are reminded of their need for them when they see the product or the product cues, like the Energizer Bunny,” said Lou Martire, VP trade development.

The battery market has changed, to an extent, as such rechargeable devices as the iPod have eclipsed some high-drain devices, such as the Walkman. However, new battery-hungry products have emerged, which has prompted Rayovac to promote its less expensive alkaline batteries to consumers who are aware that keeping new toys charged is costly.

“While older generation products like Walkmans are declining, newer products are constantly coming along to fill the gaps. For example, many new game controllers and hand-held games take AA batteries, and there are still lots of toys, digital cameras, flashlights and other high-drain devices that take a lot of batteries and power,” said Rayovac spokeswoman Melissa Layton. “As items become more and more high-tech, consumers require more batteries. This is why our brand and messaging about delivering ‘More Power for Your Money’ has been so successful.”

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Active ingredient in eye drug may work as hair loss treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A drug made by Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan for treating glaucoma and missing eyelashes may also work as a treatment for hair loss, according to published reports.

The Orange County Business Journal reported recently that bimatoprost – the active ingredient in the glaucoma drug Lumigan and the eyelash-growing drug Latisse – might be able to grow hair on the scalp, though more research is needed.

The company will attempt to create a formulation and begin clinical trials, the newspaper reported a company executive as saying in a conference call with analysts.

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