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Electronic holiday gifts should boost battery sales

Industry experts predict that Santa's bag will be stuffed with electronics this holiday season. As a result, retailers can count on a strong third quarter for battery sales.

Christine Denning, a spokeswoman for Panasonic, said that three of the season's hottest gifts--digital still cameras, MP3 players and handheld gaming systems-should have a positive impact on battery sales. r These three products a e very popular Christmas gifts, and they 11 drive sales of AA alkaline and rechargeables this holiday season," Denning said.

To make the most of the selling season, retailers should maximize their cross-merchandising opportunities. "Batteries aren't really an impulse item as much as they are a prompted item,' said Lou Martire, vice president of trade development for Energizer. People actually need these products, but may not be thinking about them. That's why it's up to retailers to remind them."

CVS is one chain that is making the most of cross-merchandising opportunities in multiple locations in its stores. In its toy aisle, for instance, the chain merchandises an Energizer Bunny shelf display that clearly states that the batteries on the display are for toys and books* Books are merchandised directly across the aisle. Eveready and Duracell batteries also are merchandised on battery-shaped shelf units in the small electronics section. Hearing aid batteries are displayed at the pharmacy counter.

While pharmacy, toy and electronics outposts are obvious choices, retailers might be missing some additional opportunities. With the growth of keyless remotes, the automotive department is a great place to prompt purchases, Martire said.

Higher-end batteries, such as lithium and rechargeables, represent a significant opportunity for retailers this holiday season. People will be giving and getting high-tech electronic equipment this holiday season, and they 11 want high-performance batteries to power them," Martire said. "A lithium battery, for example, provides a significant difference to consumers. A lithium battery allows the consumer with a digital camera to take 600 photos versus the 80 photos they'd get using a traditional alkaline battery."

Manufacturers are offering new high-end products just in time for the holiday selling season. Panasonic, for example, is launching a 2300 mAh AA-size NiMH battery packaged with a small, lightweight 30-minute charger. The product retails for $44.99 and will be on-shelf by Thanksgiving. With more high-end batteries on the market, consumers may be confused about which to use. Energizer's new EnergiZone merchandising display is designed to help consumers understand product differences--and to help them see the benefit of trading up. "Selling the consumer on a lithium or rechargeable often requires education," Martire said. "As high-tech devices become more popular, consumers need Information about which battery to use. When people are paying a lot for electronic devices and trading up to higher-end batteries, education is really important."

Holiday promotions also will give the category a lift. One holiday promotion from Rayovac offers consumers who purchase Rayovac battery packs gift certificates to download tracks from Musicmatch. The program will be promoted through in-store merchandisers and displays.

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