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Archive | February 1, 2009

CHA Winter 2009 Company Notes, Part 2

Here’s part two of the compilation of notes from my visits to specific companies’ booths at CHA-Winter in Anaheim this week. Part one can be viewed here.

Dead Zone: The right end (as you stood at the entrance doors with your back to the lobby) of the show floor was absolutely dead of traffic on Tuesday when I was there, and I was told that was the case on Sunday & Monday as well. Traffic was much less than in the other end of the hall. This is somewhat hard to explain since there were definitely major companies in this area that should have drawn traffic to it.

Some of the companies that were in this area that could have been affected by seeing lower booth traffic than they should have had include: Xyron, Ultra Pro, American Crafts, Core-dinations, Fancy Pants, Piggy Tales, Hot Off The Press, EK Success, Creativity Inc., Prima, Fiskars, Pioneer, SEI, Ranger, Colorbok, Mrs. Grossman’s, C-thru/Little Yellow Bicycle, Crate Paper, and Melissa Frances.

CK Media: The contrast to their booth from the past was very striking. Their booth was almost empty of staff, and the staff that were present were advertising sales staff. In fact, the whole tone of the booth seemed focused on advertising sales, as opposed to promoting the company’s publications like in the past. Editorial staff presence seemed limited to scheduled appearances at a spot in the corner of the booth.

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The CK Media booth made the decision to discontinue Simple Scrapbooks magazine (which was announced on January 15th) look very sudden, since no plans had apparently been made to alter the CK Media booth. The booth was full of references to Simple Scrapbooks that had not been removed. There was still a wall display advertising Simple, and all of the advertising handouts except for one small (third of a sheet) one were for packages that included ads in Simple.

Creativity Inc: Most manufacturers seem to have responded to storeowner complaints about showing products that aren’t ready for shipping. But Creativity Inc. stuck out for the noticeable number of prototypes on display in their booth.

This booth seemed light on their usual range of product introductions – just two new product lines and some new stamps. Instead a lot of space was devoted to introducing their “Minute Scrapbooker” kit program and promoting it as convenient and easy.

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American Crafts: This company is obviously making a concerted effort to diversify their market base outside the traditional scrapbook industry. They had a display of printable wedding stationary on display (probably an attempt to capitalize on the growing DIY wedding market in the poor economy).

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But the most attention in the American Crafts booth seemed to be being devoted to their new stamping products (rubber and clear stamps, and embossing powders), another effort at expanding their market base. There was a demo in progress during my visit to the booth that was highlighting these stamping offerings.

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Bazzill: One of their new introductions that jumped out at me was their new boxed cards, making them another company trying to expand their market base somewhat…I sometimes use my Bazzill to make my own cards and now I won’t have to do it myself! But it seems pretty obvious from the packaging who they feel they are competing with for consumers…the similarities to Die Cuts With A View’s card packaging is pretty striking.

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Technique Tuesday: This company’s introductions were obviously carefully planned to consider the current climate in the industry. The majority of their new stamp introductions fell into one of two categories at this show: card making or mini sets. This puts them nicely in line with other companies trying to take advantage of card making to broaden their base, as well as with the trend of companies offering lower price points (and specifically small stamp sets) to make their products more accessible to consumers.

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Other introductions by Technique Tuesday reflect awareness and consideration of current industry conditions. A large selection of pre-designed kit projects were on display in the booth. These kits can serve as pre-prepared classes for strapped retailers who can’t afford to pay staff to design and prep classes.

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The kit featured above reflects another tactic that their booth showed being used by Technique Tuesday to compete in the currently tough market conditions: bringing in a scrapbook celebrity with proven marketing power to design a signature collection. As written about previously on Scrapbook Update, Ali Edwards is now creating a signature line of stamps for Technique Tuesday. Several new introductions to that line were on display at CHA. They are also utilizing the marketing power of Ali E. through their Winter 09 collector set that she designed.

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CHA Winter 2009 Company Notes, Part 1

Here’s part one of a compilation of notes from my visits to specific companies’ booths at CHA-Winter in Anaheim this week.

Ultra-Pro: All of the “Around The Block” products were being offered to retailers at clearance prices in the Ultra-Pro booth. I spoke to their product manager to ask him if the ATB technology would be applied elsewhere in the Ultra Pro lines (such as Chatterbox and 7 Gypsies) to create tools for those labels. I was told the technology would be used but in an updated form, such as by taking the manual tools and creating electric versions of them like they have done with their newly released Binderie punch.

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Carolee’s Creations: A lot of companies are looking for ways to expand their base market as scrapbooking has contracted. Rather than just try to expand their cardmaking or other relatively traditional papercrafting options, Carolee’s is getting into a whole new business: photo canvases. They were selling the program to retailers as an extra service for their stores, and said it was being well-received by retailers looking for more profit centers.

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Making Memories: In an effort to rev up sales of their Tagmaker tool, Making Memories has now incorporated into their Slice product line. The Slice can now cut the Tagmaker’s paper shapes, eliminating the need for annoying tracing and imprecise handcutting of the paper shapes from templates. Tagmaker rims are also being offered in fun glitter colors that I can’t wait to try out. (I happen to really like my Tagmaker, despite it being uncool to do so.)

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October Afternoon: It wasn’t their products, but the fact that they weren’t there, that had people talking about this company at CHA. The official explanation for their empty and unmanned booth was a “freight equipment failure”. Experienced CHA attendees know it’s not unheard of for companies who’ve experienced freight problems with their booth displays to set up shop in their empty booths on tables and chairs and “make do” until their booths arrive. October Afternoon’s failure to take that step has a lot of people wondering why.

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Wooky Entertainment: The Canadian company that produced Paris Hilton’s product line told me that they weren’t taking retail orders but were shopping the line to distributors. They said they were collecting leads that they would use to select a U.S. distributor from after CHA concluded. Personally I found the line somewhat gaudy and overdone, which means it should appeal perfectly to its target audience of tween and teen girls.

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Canon: CHA Winter 09 was Canon’s first visit to CHA. They were in the New Exhibitor section. One of their staff told me that the company’s goal at the show was to establish goodwill with the scrapbook industry and educate people about their products. They weren’t actively selling or taking orders. By contrast, Epson, a repeat exhibitor, was at CHA to sell store owners their wide-format printers to use to offer printing services to customers.

Fiskars: It was obvious visiting this company’s booth that they are already returning their focus to their tool lines like they announced earlier this month that they plan to do. Although Fiskars did have displays in their booth of the last new consumable product introductions that they plan to do, the vast majority of the space was devoted to their tool lines – and so was the traffic, when I was there.

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