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Retailers lure shoppers to greeting cards with signage

BY Barbara White-Sax

BROOKLYN, Ohio — Getting the most from the card category depends not only on the right merchandise, but also on the right merchandising. Outposting and signage can have a big impact on the department.


Merchandising elements, such as cohesive signage, caption locators, call-outs and detailed product descriptions, are important to the department not just seasonally, but also year-round because they help guide consumers in the aisle and make the section more appealing to shop. American Greetings works with retailers year-round to create an engaging and cohesive look that attracts consumers to the aisle and makes shopping the aisle easy.


“To assist our retailers in creating the right environment, we’ve led a significant transformation of the shopping experience, highlighted by dynamic merchandising systems that set the stage for our latest introductions,” said Frank Cirillo, a spokesman for American Greetings.


Cirillo said the strategy used during the Christmas holiday selling season is a good example of how AG works with retailers to create merchandising and signage based on its extensive consumer intelligence data.


“In the card aisle this Christmas season, we used a lot of red and green, as well as seasonal imagery and iconography, to let consumers know exactly what can be found, but we also developed engaging call-to-action messaging urging consumers to ‘make their holidays the happiest,’” Cirillo said. The focus on creating a boutique builds excitement in the store and can boost seasonal sales. 


Hallmark also uses signage to call out innovative new products in the card aisle. At CVS, Hallmark’s signage highlights “innovations” and calls attention to the company’s webcam greetings, cards with sound and displayable greeting cards. 


Drawing attention to new products is crucial because innovation is the fuel that drives the category. Consumers have an endless appetite for novelty, particularly when it comes to technology. 


AG’s Illuminotes, introduced this fall, feature a frosted vellum window and a diffused light. Another collection of holiday cards allows senders to record their voices as they sing along to background music of a popular carol, creating a personalized audio message for the card’s recipient. The Yakety Yak line of cards, also recently introduced, features music and motion technology to relay a humorous message. The new lines all incorporate the latest technology to create cards that consumers are likely to spend more for because they are keepsakes that can be shared.


Not all of AG’s new lines include chips, but low-tech innovation can be just as entertaining. Flipbook, which produces animation the old-fashioned way, is a new line designed to be a fun way to introduce kids to card-giving. “It’s A Gas,” another recent AG introduction, is a line of whoopee cushion cards that can be signed and sent in an accompanying envelope.

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Changing Channels — Hot products outside of food, drug and mass

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK — Sagging, the practice of letting one’s pants hang slightly below the waist in a way that exposes the underwear, is a fashion trend that has inspired heated debate of a sort unseen since the mink stole, pitting supporters of free expression against those who see it as indecent exposure. Like fur, it likely will stick around for some time, so inventor Andrew Lewis has taken the pragmatic route with Subs, launched by Hatch Ventures. Subs work like suspenders or garters, holding pants up so that they don’t fall down too low 
and inhibit wearers’ ability to walk and climb stairs. Subs retail for around $34.95, and products also come packaged in kits.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — It may be stay-
indoors season now, but spring will arrive in a few months, bringing Americans out for camping, fishing and other outdoor activities. United Spirit of America has unveiled Basic Edition, a line of personal care products designed for outdoor enthusiasts, military and law-enforcement personnel. The products make personal care easy while delivering protection against sun exposure, insects and germs. Products include a combination shampoo, body wash and shaving lather; a sunscreen spray that also acts as an insect repellant; anti-fungal foot powder; and anti-bacterial gel. Prices 
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powder.

SAN ANTONIO — It’s common for parents washing babies’ cloth diapers to end 
up with an un­-
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compound that elim­inates odors with a few tablespoons. Funk Rock also works on odors from pets’ urine. It is available in 9-oz., one-month supplies for $12.95.

NEW YORK — It’s hard to convince most small children that medicine will help them when it tastes positively vile, but one doctor who encountered this dilemma with his two small children created Sippy Sure, a sippy cup that mixes medicine with more palatable beverages. The cup, launched by Iatrical Innovations, works by keeping the medicine and the beverage separate, but mixing them together when a child drinks from it in a way that will administer the medicine without the child detecting it. The cup retails for $8.99.

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Dollar General raises guidance after strong Q3

BY DSN STAFF

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General reported that its third-quarter net income was $128 million, or a diluted earnings per share of 37 cents.

Excluding a net loss of $8 million ($5 million after income taxes) relating to the early repayment of certain long-term obligations, net income for the 2010 third quarter was $133 million, or a diluted EPS of 39 cents, a 76% increase over net income of $76 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter of fiscal 2009.

The boost prompted the company to raise its full-year adjusted earnings per share guidance to the range of $1.78 to $1.81, Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO said.

Net sales for the quarter increased 10.1% to $3.22 billion in third quarter 2010, compared with $2.93 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 4.2% in the 2010 quarter and 9.2% in the 2009 quarter, with customer traffic and average transaction amounts contributing to the same-store sales increases in both periods.

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