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Before hitting the books, students hit drug stores

BY Barbara White-Sax

Back-to-college merchandise is big business. “College students are starting to represent the most important segment of the back-to-school market,” said Perry James, an analyst with the NPD Group. The segment has grown, Perry said, since the weak job market has caused many college seniors to extend their education through graduate school.

Chain drug retailers are adding more merchandise to attract these consumers. “Drug stores have become a popular option for families shopping for back-to-college,” said Kathy Grannis, a National Retail Federation spokeswoman. NRF data from 2010 showed that 17% of college students planned to purchase their supplies at drug stores.

“The market for back-to-college has grown tremendously; students want more than a mini-refrigerator and an answering machine,” Grannis said. “Drug stores are expanding their merchandise to satisfy these young adults who have specific needs.”

It’s not unusual to find small appliances, such as tower fans, water filters, drip coffee makers and toaster ovens; decor items, such as throws, pillow bed rests and area rugs; and storage products on drug store shelves from July to September. Laptop accessories also are a crucial category.

Parents, long accustomed to opening their wallets for their kids, are willing to spend the money necessary to trick out Junior’s dorm room. That doesn’t mean they aren’t shopping around for the best deals. NRF data from 2010 revealed that more than half of parents said they were shopping for sales.

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Lighten up with LEDs

BY Barbara White-Sax

AMSTERDAM — Royal Philips Electronics has added the EnduraLED A21 17-watt bulb to its lineup of LED bulbs. The new bulb is designed to replace the 75-watt incandescent bulb while reducing energy consumption by 80% and lasting 25 times longer.
The new bulb, available in fourth quarter 2011, is the latest addition to the company’s portfolio of light-emitting diode bulbs that offer consumers the benefits of traditional incandescent bulbs, such as white light, without the high energy consumption. The company also produces LED equivalents to 25-watt, 40-watt  and 60-watt incandescent bulbs.

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ReportersNotebook — General Merchandise, 6/27/11

BY Barbara White-Sax

SUPPLIER NEWS — Pampers has introduced Prints, a limited-edition diaper line with designs that include floral and polka dot prints for girls, and argyle and toy car prints for boys. The diapers are available through the summer in sizes 1 through 4.

Procter & Gamble’s
Tide brand is bringing its mobile laundry program to Missouri to provide free laundry services to victims of the recent tornadoes in the area. The program includes the Tide Loads of Hope truck outfitted with 32 energy-efficient Frigidaire Affinity washers and dryers. Collectively, Tide has washed more than 44,000 loads of laundry for more than 35,000 families impacted by disasters since the program launched in 2005.
In related news, the company announced the packaging for its Bounce, Downy and Tide brands will sport a retro look for a limited time, giving a nod to P&G’s past packaging for the products. The vintage packages will be available at Target from May 22 to June 10.

The world’s largest consumer-voted program that recognizes innovation in consumer packaged goods is calling on brands to submit their newest products. The Product of the Year USA awards will honor consumer brands that participate in the survey conducted by TNS, a custom research agency. U.S. shoppers will be called upon to vote and select a new generation of winners who will earn the POY endorsement in their product category — and will be given the opportunity to tout the Product of the Year logo on their packaging. The winners will be announced in February 2012. The final deadline to submit entries is Aug. 31.

Cool Gear has introduced a new set of reusable water bottles, cups and food containers that are designed to keep food and drinks chilled for a long period of time. The lineup includes the EZ Freeze Freeze n’ Lock leak-proof, stackable food storage containers; the EZ Freeze Eco 2 Go Gel Chiller reusable, double-wall insulated cup with lid and straw; the redesigned Pure line of on-the-go, 24-oz. water filtration bottles; and the Design-a-Bottle, which allows users to create a customized 20-oz., double-wall hydration bottle complete with personal photos, graphics and text by using the Design-a-Bottle feature on Cool Gear’s website.

Racing fans at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina on May 21 broke a Guinness World Record for most flashlights simultaneously lit, dubbed “Light Up the Night.” Energizer outfitted race attendees with 65,000 Energizer LED headlights. The company also donated $30,000 worth of flashlights and batteries to the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross, as May 22 kicked off the start of Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Off! insect repellant has introduced its latest innovation, Off! Deep Woods Dry ($5.99 for a 4-oz. can), which offers comfortable protection in heavily wooded areas. The brand also introduced Off! Botanicals towelettes and lotions ($4.99 each), which are made with a plant-based repellent that protects against mosquitoes, black flies, gnats and no-see-ums.

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