Chains push licensed goods but keep assortments basic

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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