Tue, Jan 04, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Stores' merchandising lures the masses

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

To capture young consumers' versatile tastes and boost brand awareness, convenience-store chains are targeting merchandising products, although the real purpose is to enhance their market presence in a highly competitive marketplace.

The so-called merchandising products are goods featuring images of celebrities or cartoon figures.

"This kind of marketing strategy is more about producing a lively brand image than creating marked revenues," said Esther Lin (林翠娟), spokeswoman of Taiwan FamilyMart Co (全家便利商店).

Targeting the massive fan base of soft drink giant Coca-Cola, Taiwan FamilyMart is scheduled to introduce authorized lunch boxes in its 1,700 outlets today.

The 60,000 limited-edition boxes, specially designed to integrate Coca-Cola elements including the well-known product logo and the curving shape of coke bottles, are expected to fly off the shelves within one week, Lin said.

This is the operator's third year designing theme-oriented lunch boxes, following the cartoon figure Qoo in 2003 and Hello Kitty last year.

"As convenience stores' major customer base falls into the 15-to-30 age bracket, constantly creating consumption topics and meeting consumers' expectations will help increase the frequency of their visiting our outlets," she said.

President Chain Store Corp (統一超商), which runs the world's third-largest 7-Eleven franchise, has been eager to bring in merchandising products in different fields.

Last year alone, it secured authorization from the pop girlband S.H.E, boyband 5566, the nation's Olympic baseball team players, and the Gongliao Ho-Hai-Yan Rock Festival (貢寮海洋音樂祭) to manufacture exclusive souvenir items.

Starting tomorrow, 7-Eleven will also launch more than 20 Hello Kitty products to start another wave of consumer trends, according to President Chain.

Apparently, the chain operators' efforts to present theme-focused products can enhance their market presence and achieve a market segmentation, said Jeff Lai (賴建都), professor of advertising at National Chengchi University.

"This kind of marketing is conducive to increasing consumer traffic and improving brand recognition since Taiwan has a high density of convenience stores," Lai said.

By showcasing merchandising products to entice consumers to visit their outlets, these operators will be able to have their other services exposed to potential buyers.

"Different from traditional markets, convenience stores have to closely follow the latest trends and create new topics every month, from Lovers' Day products to Lunar New Year dishes," Lai said.

"Otherwise, they'll soon be ignored by co nsumers searching for surprise and some creativity," he said.

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