TRENDS IN RETAIL FOR 2011
We asked our ZAG Sponsors to tell us of trends they have noticed for 2011 based on customer feedback and the orders being placed by buyers, plus their experiences during gift shows. Here’s what they had to say:
Peter Seresky of Nancy Sales Company/Nanco continues to see steady improvement in business confidence. Many of his customers have successfully reduced inventories over the past few years and the buying patterns seem stronger at recent shows. This is balanced with the continued challenges of sourcing products in Asia. Bright spots for Nanco’s lines include a continued strong demand for their short run in-house imprintable souvenirs (mugs, glassware, picture frames, water globes and other items), their Animaland stuff your own plush animals, and novelties with sharp price points.
Daren Aitken of Western Woods says that they have seen a big increase in sales for items that can retail for under $10.00. Western Woods has over 50 different styles of hand carved soapstone animals with a wholesale cost of $.75 that retailers can sell for $2.99. Their fill the bag program with tumbled stones and magnetic rocks continues to be their most popular item and can retail for $6.99 or less depending on the size of the bag. They have also seen a big increase in rough specimen bin items, which have a wholesale cost of between $.65 to $2.50 each and which the retailer can easily get a 3x markup.
Jim Pettit of Jackson Pacific has noticed that customers want more for less, so Jackson Pacific has expanded their custom universal sign ornament line where customers can get bronze ornaments for as low as $2.50 each, low minimums (144 pieces or 36 pieces each of 4 designs), and 49 different zoo and aquarium designs to choose from.
Personalization of their elephant dung paper gifts was a top seller for Mr Ellie Pooh last year, said Karl Wald, and sales have already been strong for this year. With about a two month lead time their recycled dung paper gifts can be customized with a variety of animals, themes and logos. Speaking of recycled products, Michelle Flynn of the Art Studio Company sees a trend of not only recycled products but socially conscious products. “Socially conscious goods plus recycled goods equals good products that are good for the world and the people.” This is why they developed a new line of recycled wool hand-made ornaments, which are not only cute reminders of your travels but also allow women working in small villages to earn a sustainable living.
The new colors that Georgetown Home & Garden added this year to their planters have been selling very well, according to Susan Georgulas. Smaller planters with a price point of $19.99-24.99 are doing better than larger planters with higher price points, and customers are really thinking twice about gifts above a $25.00 price point, said Susan. Especially hot are zebra patterns this year. Also in the garden/outdoor gift category, In the Breeze has seen a lot of enthusiasm this year for their best selling lines of baby bugs and birds, flower ground spinners and their new kinetic hot air balloon spinners, said Anne Seile.
New ZAG sponsor ALL U Activewear has offered licensed and custom apparel for 26 years, but hasn’t seen anything as exciting as what QR technology brings to their t-shirts, mugs and other gift items. Tom Clark explains that encoding products with that little pixilated box you’ve been seeing in print lately can be read by smart phones, which connects directly to a web site that can have all sorts of educational or promotional content, games or consumer offers. The first of ALL U’s animal related items is their Bird of the Day mug assortment accompanied by a scanable code that takes consumers to an online quiz to identify that day’s featured bird species.
Price is still a major consideration for OPI (Ohio Pyle Prints, Inc), according to Carol Baker, and so their customers are going with the more basic garments. Once again their combos of water bottle/tee, hat/tee and multi-tee are top sellers based on the perceived value. OPI has also noticed that customers are trending toward simpler graphics. Finally, their listing graphics-where you can list exhibit names specific to your location-has become very popular with zoos and aquariums. Cotton prices and labor continue to be major issues that not only dictate price, but have a profound impact on deliveries and order minimums, said Angelo Curmaci of Royal Resortwear, where children’s hats in all styles continues to dominate sales.
Kids Tees by Stephen Joseph has noticed that young girls are becoming more and more fashion conscious. Teresa Kessinger feels that their desire to have a longer and more fitted t-shirt has prompted Stephen Joseph to add a Youth Fashion body into their garment lineup, available in four hot colors and in sizes xs to large. And Cherie Lindstrom of Image West Apparel says they are having great success with their screen print and rhinestone combinations for ladies, juniors and girls. The rhinestones add a lot of BLING!
The Duck Company’s humorous designs continue to show growth in 2011, said Jolene Marsh. The company has developed a ladies/junior design collection that is doing well. Their tear drop “V” and their scoop neck tee are both going strong. Youth and toddler designs are dominating, too. Jolene says buyers are slowly increasing their orders and the Duck Company saw some great spring break results, so they hope that is an indication that 2011 will be a great year.
One trend John Cweiber of CTM/The Penny Men has seen is to offer unique products for a special or limited time event. They offer a custom penny design where they print out the pennies at their machine shop and then send them to the location, which can then offer these pennies free with the purchase of a souvenir penny book. CTM incurs the cost of the engraving so the cost to the locations is free, the end goal being to sell more souvenir penny books.
GeoCentral’s Joie Newberry says that the consumer continues to be more focused on products that are both fun and educational. Their retailers are telling them that parents are far more likely to make an impulse purchase if that item provides some type of learning or new experience. Ramona Pariente of Safari LTD expects 2011 to be a good year because Safari continues to pay close attention to price points and perceived value, and they consciously create toys that address this plus have a WOW factor.
Year after year, Shelley from Warm Fuzzy Toys sees that items that have an extra factor like light, flash, color, sound or motion are their top sellers. Examples would be their exclusive Water Wheels which have been selling extremely well. Customers are also loving their new higher end Medusa Aquarium with important extras like multi color light effects and “swimming” Medusa jellyfish.
Wishpets’ Anne Worton sees increased customization as a trend for 2011. By offering low minimums and ZAG discounted pricing, zoo and aquarium gift shop buyers can offer an exclusive plush animal that could include paw print patches, name drop ribbons, t-shirts, hoodies, logo embroidery and custom hang tags. Another trend has been the introduction of fun, fresh and bright new fabric treatments such as their SPIKES line, which has made this collection a hit for 2011.
John Fitzsimmons of Rhode Island Novelty/Adventure Planet reports that the major trend in 2011 is undoubtedly price point and value. “The magic retail price point for 2011 seems to be $9.99, so any good quality plush or toy that can retail for that is a huge hit for retailers.” Rhode Island’s top selling toy categories include their PVC zipper packs, small PVC boxed sets, animated PVC sets and color-a-tube, all of which can get a 3x mark up with a retail between $3.99-9.99. In plush, they offer Half Pints, Extend A Pulls, Shaggies, Paws, Snugglies, and plush snakes, which give retailers great choices for a $5.99-11.99 price point with a 3x mark up.
Small, compact point of purchase displays containing colorful tie bracelets have been hot for Marc St. Pierre of Cool Jewels by Phillips International. Their zoo and aquarium customers have experienced surprisingly quick sell-throughs. The displays can be pre-loaded with individually bar-coded product and they can offer up to a 10x mark up. Cool Jewels is offering ZAG members a no risk guaranteed test on the small displays.
The Moovie Studio’s new lenticular panda, hawk and elephant bookmarks are seeing a strong response from buyers, according to Neil Walwyn. Revised journal styles and lower price points are boosting sales of monkey, dolphin, shark and penguin items. Bobby Lee Rahner of Kraf & Associates has noticed a trend to more products made in the USA, such as their Kendon Candies, their degradable plastic souvenir cups, and their zoo keeper badges and tac pins. Items made in the USA have a better turn around and faster delivery. Prices from plush made in China have gone up but Kraf is working with their BJ plush line to keep prices affordable while not compromising quality.
Dinosaurs are definitely one of the trends for 2011 for the Wildlife Cookie Company, says Ken Smith. They have received many requests for dinosaur animal cookies so they introduced a dinosaur box in 2011 and the response has been fantastic. Awareness about the importance ofusing sunscreen continues to grow for Aloe Up Sun & Skin Care Products’ Neal Klein, so having sun protection products is essential for your shop this season. Aloe Up’s Continuous Spray Sunscreens contain UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection, are water and sweat resistant, and apply evenly to your skin with the touch of a button.
Finally, in the world of gift shows, Tim von Gal of Urban Expositions reports that the Las Vegas Resort & Souvenir Show and the Gathering have already sold out, and that the Smoky Mountain and Myrtle Beach gift shows will be sold out shortly. They are also seeing some new vendors and new merchandise concepts coming in. Sarah Jones of theWorld Market Center Las Vegas says their Gift + Home at Las Vegas Market will offer a wide range of fresh ideas and new lines from new vendors aiming for the profitable youth market. And Susan Mills of the International Gift Exposition in the Smokies has seen a substantial increase in requests from buyers for vendors that offer “made in America” merchandise. Their second highest request has been for eco-friendly/green/recycled merchandise. IGES is planning on offering a list of vendors at their show that offer these types of products.