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Chains push licensed goods but keep assortments basic

BY Mike Duff

The recession has subjected licensed products at drug chains to some scrutiny, yet they continue to play a role in company plans.

Rite Aid plans to focus more on the basic necessities. “Rite Aid is going back to basics this school season with an emphasis on value geared around the items most commonly requested by teachers,” said company spokesman Eric Harkreader.

Walgreens will be selective when it comes to licenses, leaning in the value direction. “We’ve got one of note we’re adding,” said spokesman Robert Elfinger, citing a development in home office/stationery. “We have the Ed Hardy brand notebooks, folders and binders. He’s a tattoo artist with trippy designs. They’re very reasonably priced.”

At CVS, Greg Froton, divisional merchandising manager for seasonal and general merchandise, noted, “We have seen these products increase in popularity with our customers.… We believe licensed products, which often offer a feeling of nostalgia and comfort, will gain in popularity this year.”

In licensed greeting cards, said American Greetings spokesman Frank Cirillo, “The two biggest in terms of timing around back-to-school are Transformers and G.I. Joe.”

In addition, “established brands, such as the Disney Princess line, ‘Dora The Explorer,’ ‘Hello Kitty’ and ‘Cars,’ should continue to dominate the drug store categories later this year,” said Darren Kyman, executive director of marketing and retail development for Paramount Licensing.

Among the products that Bendetta Campisi, assistant VP licensing at Sesame Workshop, said should see success at drug were “fun bath products featuring children’s favorite ‘Sesame Street’ characters from The Village Co.”

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Washington, Mo., considers repealing recently passed PSE legislation

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The objective here is closing down clandestine methamphetamine labs. The question is: Who is going to bear the cost? And the answer, ultimately, is the consumer.

It seems that one of the primary reasons behind legislation like this, which is also under consideration by the California state legislature as well as several local municipalities throughout Missouri, is cost shifting.

Indeed, one solution that would prevent the practice of “smurfing,” a practice whereby meth addicts exceed their legal purchase limits in pseudoephedrine products by buying across several nearby pharmacies, is electronic logbooking. By granting access to PSE logbooks to law enforcement in real time, law enforcement officers would not only be made aware of a “smurfer” as they were driving between pharmacies, but would also identify who that smurfer was and where they lived.

Setting up that comprehensive electronic logbooking system requires resources, however. State coffers have traditionally been tapped for that purpose, and at least in the case of California, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has offered to help defray that cost. In the case of Missouri, more than $500,000 has already been earmarked for the implementation of an electronic logbooking system at the state level.

However,  a not-as-much-talked-about cost is also borne by law enforcement, as pointed out by Franklin County Sgt. Jason Grellner in Missouri. After all, it requires additional resources to actually apprehend and prosecute those criminals, he suggested. And a system that better defines who those criminals may be, by his estimation, could cost the state as much as $350,000 per criminal per year.

Therefore, Grellner argues, it’s a fiscal responsibility to take PSE off the OTC market altogether, and require a prescription for the popular decongestant.

That, in a nutshell, is cost-shifting. Because reverse switching PSE translates into less revenue for retailers (and consequently less taxable revenue, as well) for those consumers who choose to forego PSE-provided relief, and for those who don’t, it’s a greater healthcare cost because now consumers have to schedule an appointment with their primary care practitioner and pay the co-pay for that doctor’s visit on top of the cost of the PSE product.

Regardless of how the consumer ultimately pays for the elimination of meth labs — whether through increased taxes to cover escalating law enforcement budgets or through increased personal healthcare costs — there is another argument to be made here. Switching PSE to prescription-only status may result in fewer meth labs busted, but it’s not going to do anything about those meth addicts still on the street. Necessity is the mother of invention, and for addicts, that simply means sourcing their meth from somewhere else.

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