Specialty devices power battery category at retail

As new products keep rolling out from major battery brand manufacturers, retailers are updating their marketing to maximize the potential of increasingly specific product functions.

On Aug. 18, Energizer launched its Advanced Lithium battery, designed to power wireless gaming accessories, digital cameras, hand-held games or MP3 players.

Panasonic, last summer, had introduced the Evolta battery, which it characterized as the world’s longest-lasting AAalkaline battery cell in more devices. Evolta represents a certain resistance to battery specialization. “We see the trend in batteries going toward more middle-drain applications as the reduction in power-consumption needs of appliances has resulted in less high-drain devices needing primary battery power,” said Matt Sora, Panasonic vice president of sales and marketing.

While others keyed on batteries, Duracell focused on line extensions. Among the products debuted was Duracell Daylite, the cornerstone of a new flashlight line designed to capture and use 100 percent of the light generated versus 70 percent in other products. The flashlight introduction came hard on the heels of the debut of Duracell’s My Pocket Charger and the PowerSource Mini, which were developed to charge cell phones, BlackBerrys and MP3 players.

Battery makers have encouraged many retailers to create ancillary product display spaces that complement the products they power, but drug chains haven’t necessarily bitten, as many prefer to depend on a battery center merchandising program.

Rather than develop secondary displays, Walgreens focuses on expanding its battery centers to make it easier to shop for specific applications, said company spokesman Robert Elfinger. “Customers are starting to understand that high-draining devices, such as digital cameras, are getting specific batteries,” he said. “And they are looking for some of the new high-tech batteries.”

But not everybody is focused on the central battery display. Rite Aid has anticipated battery category expansion.

“We have freestanding planograms, as well as secondary displays of the more standard stuff,” said spokesman Eric Harkreader. “And now there is a big demand among green consumers for batteries that are more eco-friendly.”

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