Carlson Marketing Identifies Merchandise Trends

Minneapolis, MN | September 23, 2008

The research is strong that long-term relationships and customer loyalty are enhanced with a reward program that offers merchandise selections tailored to individual participants.Getting the award mix right creates the strong foundation needed to motivate consumer behaviors such as joining, redeeming and staying in the program. Keeping up with consumer trends is one way to ensure that the offerings match the desires of the loyalty program members as well as the business objectives of the company.

Based on consumer buying and redemption trends, the experts at Carlson Marketing have identified the latest trends in five popular categories: Consumer Electronics, Housewares, Lawn & Garden, Style and "green" or environmentally sound products. "We source millions of dollars of goods every year," said Jenele Grassle, vice president, merchandising, Carlson Marketing. "Our buyers have daily involvement with our clients and their customers, so we have a good feel for what they want and need." Of course, Carlson Marketing watches consumer research and tracks redemptions as well.

Consumer electronics

The hot categories for consumer electronics will continue to focus on televisions, audio systems and digital cameras.

Televisions - With the switch to all-digital transmissions in February 2009, we expect to see increased sales especially in high definition (HD) sets. HDTVs are going super thin at just 1.5 inches or less. Watch for more integration with iPods for video playback and the next generation of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screens.

Audio - Integration with iPods is now the norm with new innovations as a dual-dock speaker systems and home theater systems that tie seamlessly into wall-mounted HDTVs. Following the video lead, audio also is going high definition.

Cameras - Small and big are the themes: smaller/thinner bodies in more colors with greater capacity/megapixels and stronger optical zooms. Other enhancements will be larger LCD screens and face-detection technology.

Other interesting products

· Digital photo frames - The screens are getting larger and frames more sophisticated. They're also morphing into items like an audio/video message board combining electronics with old school white board and Post It notes. Or the photo phone that has a 7-inch LCD picture frame that doubles as a photographic caller ID.
· GPS systems - With 300 percent growth in the past two years, GPS systems are dropping in price and increasing in capabilities. In addition to the standard maps, look for real-time traffic, weather, Internet access and Bluetooth compatibility.
· Cordless phones - Find more freedom with DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunication) phone with greater range and better clarity than the existing cordless home phones. Thin is not in; consumers want larger handsets now.

Housewares

Wine and beer coolers continue to be strong players. Outdoor entertaining small appliances - such as margarita blenders - are growing. Get used to programming small appliances as capabilities expand for items like espresso makers. "Cyclonic Cleaning" is the rage in the vacuum category along with a growing focus on pet hair or stain removal.

Lawn and Garden

In the great outdoors, consumers are thinking "green." Especially strong are solar lighting and Forest Stewardship Council-certified patio furniture made of eucalyptus. Recycling and eco-friendly items such as composters, water collectors and battery operated lawn mowers.

Style

Carlson Marketing has identified three additional trends in the style category. Luggage has moved from the merely practical to become a fashionable accessory. The new, bright colors not only help you identify your bag at the airport, but say something about who you are. The same is true for the new designer handbags that continue to hold consumers' attention. And brand name watches are making a timely appearance in the marketplace.

"Keeping tabs on consumer interests is a challenge," said Grassle, "but it's also what keeps the job interesting. There are always new exciting products to meet people's changing needs and desires. We love matching them up to surprise and delight our clients."

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About Carlson Marketing Worldwide
Carlson Marketing helps global Fortune 1000 clients increase their ROI by designing and delivering sales and marketing programs that drive measurable results. Carlson provides its clients with cool new marketing concepts, coupled with rock solid delivery across its two global service offerings - Brand Loyalty and Engagement & Events - supported by six core capabilities: Strategy & Planning; Creative, Interactive & Media; Incentive & Event Management; Award Services; Technology Services; and Decision Sciences.

Carlson Marketing employs 3,000 marketing professionals across 15 countries. www.carlsonmarketing.com

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