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New brand launches laundry detergent for men

BY Gina Acosta

HARWOOD, Md. — As lifestyle products for men continue to disrupt the beauty aisles, a new brand is looking to disrupt the laundry care aisle too.

A startup called Frey for Men has launched an eco-friendly laundry detergent with an unmistakably masculine oak and musk scent, and plans to debut a premium air freshener, concentrated laundry detergent, stain remover and wrinkle releaser.

“We are thrilled with customer reviews of our laundry detergent for men,” said Frey co-founder, Leif Frey. “This positive response inspires us to ask our customers directly what they want from FREY next.  And so, we are answering their requests by rolling out additional products we know they want and need.”

Frey says it caters to gentlemen who appreciate quality products designed specifically for their dynamic yet domestic-conscious lifestyles.  With new additions to its brand portfolio, the brand is moving full-steam-ahead to carve a space of its own within men’s grooming and household product niches.  The line is available at freyformen.com/#store, where the following items make their debut:

  • Frey Premium Air Freshener, 16 oz., $14
  • Frey Premium Concentrated Laundry Detergent, 24 loads, 16 oz., $10/Two 16 oz. bottles, $17.00
  • Frey Premium Stain Remover, 2 fl. oz., $7
  • Frey Premium Wrinkle Releaser, 2 fl. oz., $7

The brand's is also partnering with Paramount Pictures and MGM’s BEN-HUR on no-purchase-necessary contests, sweepstakes and giveaways of movie tickets through a digital media campaign on its website, FreyForMen.com through August. 

Frey for Men products are currently available on freyformen.com.

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Study: Back-to-school shopping just getting started

BY Marianne Wilson

Back-to-school promotions seem to start earlier and earlier each year. But most consumers aren’t buying the pitch.
   
That’s one of the findings of a new report by A.T. Kearney in which the majority of consumers surveyed said they planned to do most of their BTS shopping in August and September. (Only 4% of shoppers did any of their shopping as early as July 4.) And in another nod to the "old school" shopper, the study suggests that brick-and-mortar will still make or break back-to-school sales.

“Although online retail sales continue to increase, 57% of our survey respondents plan to make purchases in stores. Therefore, it is more important for retailers to examine every aspect of their in-store shopping experience,” said Joel Alden, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report
     
The two main factors that matter most to consumers, the study finds, are competitive prices (91%) and a superior shopping experience in-store, online and via mobile (85%). And in a surprising acknowledgment to new retail technology, 30% more consumers are open to adopting mobile shopping apps and personalized promotions while in stores than were in the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Retailers have been slow to engage these tools, along with other new technologies, in light of the last several years of weak back-to-school sales — but the 61% of consumers who have signed up for (or intend to sign up for) mobile payment apps — up from 37% during the 2015 holiday season — should be enough to call retailers into action.

"The first time we ran this particular study was when we were approaching the 2015 holiday shopping season, and it's been remarkable to see the changes between those survey results and these in nine or so months,” said Alden. "But brick-and-mortar plays a far larger role in back-to-school shopping than in holiday shopping. Retailers should be poised to take advantage of the increased foot traffic they'll gain in the upcoming shopping season, by making best use of in-store offers, mobile and omnichannel that can direct shoppers and increase their basket size.”

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Rules of the road: On Boots and Brexit

BY Ed Rowland

The U.K. OTC market is, as the Brits would say, brilliant. For North American brand owners, it’s always on the list of attractive potential markets. Complex and unique, there are two “B”s that stand out — Boots and Brexit.

It’s not tickety-boo with the “B”s throwing a spanner in the works presenting challenges. Boots moves fast, while Brexit will unfold at a slower pace.
Translated, the United Kingdom is an attractive market.

Boots, now WBA (Walgreen’s Boots Alliance) after “merging,” is the leading UK drug chain. WBA is becoming the first truly global drug chain. Besides Walgreen’s, WBA has acquired Rite Aid in the United States, leading chains in Mexico and Chile, launched in South Korea and is shopping in Australia. On the Rx wholesale front, huge equity investments have been made, notably AmerisourceBergen.

WBA’s activity has at least four major consequences: acquisitions cost money, Boots U.K. trade practices are being adopted in the United States, Boots UK executives in WAG’s Chicago offices are learning about U.S. market traits — notably seasonal, food and drive thru — and, at some point, WBA’s customers will face global price negotiations. WBA is maximizing acquisition payments out of operating cash flow. OTC category reviews will inevitably focus on cash. Indeed, the Boots U.K. practices of extending payment terms from 45 to 145 days, requiring permanent three-for-two trade promotions and a more aggressive private label approach are finding their way to Chicago. It’s already an established dismal science for UK marketers. It will eventually become a global fact.

The recent surprise Brexit vote will reshape the U.K. OTC market. The British Parliament must first ratify EU Article 50, triggering a two-year decoupling process. Some U.K. observers believe market uncertainty could last for five years and, at best, have a neutral impact. I anticipate at least four consequences:

  1. The British Pound will be weaker, but not dramatically so;
  2. Any hopes of an easier-formatted regulatory path to the United Kingdom are gone;
  3. Duties will almost certainly be re-evaluated; and
  4. Scotland could very well vote for independence opting to remain in the European Union. (Scotland’s 5.3 million consumers represent a little more than 8% of the United Kingdom’s 64M million population and would become more difficult to reach.)

The devalued pound is already a near-term challenge. The pound has indeed dropped but not by that much. It’s not a reset situation. Instead, currency will pose a negotiation challenge as key accounts will want to hold the line on retail selling prices. Any exchange-rate differentials will be pushed back on the distributor and/or brand owner. Price negotiations won’t be pretty. The United Kingdom is well-situated and regarded as a thought- and policy-leader in the regulatory world, but will probably lose the EU’s EMA, or European Medicine Agency, London-based headquarters, overseeing drug development and approval.

There are a few other U.K. market rules of the road:

  1. The U.K. OTC market is roughly 10% of the U.S. market. One very general guide for U.S. market entry is the need for a $10 million consumer-marketing budget. Figure on something at least close to $1 million for the United Kingdom.
  2. The U.K. private label OTC market is extremely well developed. Be prepared to fight it.
  3. E-commerce is gaining traction, but not as robustly as could be expected. The United Kingdom arguably is overbuilt in brick-and-mortar, resulting in more accessible stores.

Ed Rowland, founder/owner of Rowland Global LLC (rowland-global.com), is authoring six 2016 blogs focusing on non-U.S. markets. Rowland Global assists companies in their global growth strategies, tactics and execution. He thanks Paul Hawkins, head of the U.K.’s Health & Beauty Association, for his helpful suggestions.

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