CPGmatters: Crayola Connects with Consumers Using New Assortments, Merchandising
By John Karolefski
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of a current article from CPGmatters, a monthly e-zine, presented here for discussion.
Crayola is transforming the Children’s Art Supplies (CAS) category by leveraging shopper insights to improve assortments and retail execution. The result is a stronger connection with consumers and increased brand and category sales in several trade channels.
What signaled the need for change at retail, according to Scott Yeaw, manager of category management at Crayola, a subsidiary of Hallmark Corp, was poor perception of what should be several “shelf attributes.” The CAS aisle was not inviting and not a section to stay in (low “stopability”), while product variety was limited and signage did little to help shoppers find products (low “shopability”). Overall, the section was not delivering the fun inherent in the category.
“When you walked down that aisle, there was no emotion at all,” said Mr. Yeaw, speaking as part of a presentation at the recent Category Management Conference. “It was all about crayons, markers, and pencils. It was very hard to shop.”
So the maker of crayons, markers, coloring books and Silly Putty expanded the category definition to Children’s Creative Expressions (CCE) that includes a broad range of products to satisfy mom’s aspirations for her child.
“This is a category defined more by shopper benefit than by particular products,” said Joe Beier, vice president at Interscope, who also spoke as part of the presentation. “That benefit is essentially around enabling children’s creativity and self-expression. It’s an exciting vision that has almost limitless opportunities for growth. It’s one that gets us very much beyond the traditional markers-crayons-pencils focus of the old category. But the flip side is the challenge to merchandising.”
Crayola found its solution by deploying a program of shopper-centric retail execution with several high-profile merchants such as Toys “R” Us, Kmart and Rite-Aid.
The effort has paid off with double-digit sales hikes for Crayola and its category. “Although we are small, we have been a very dynamic category over the last three or four years,” said Mr. Yeaw. “When I first started seven or eight years ago, we were growing at 2 or 3 percent. In the last few years, we’ve had 10, 12, and 17 percent growth.”
For Crayola, the reinvention of the shelf begins with shopper insights that ultimately drive in-store execution through a dozen distinct retail concepts. The process leverages functional and emotional drivers to communicate consumer desire for fun and quality time, while instilling confidence in children.
Also key are best-in-class “stopability” and “shopability,” according to the executives. For example, retailers can improve their image as a CCE destination by offering one-stop shopping for a wide variety of items, including hard-to-find and seasonal products. The goal is to get Mom and child into the CCE section and then get Mom to buy more once there.
For consumers, they said, shopping for CCE needs to be fun and often a reward for children. Bold, creative displays and eye-catching signage boost the visual appeal of the section that should be enhanced with a broad assortment. For example, some stores feature oversized, upright crayons with built-in shelves for product.
“If we do these things, we can really be a growth engine,” said Mr. Yeaw.
Discussion questions: What do you think of Crayola’s move to transform the Children’s Art Supplies (CAS) category to Children’s Creative Expressions (CCE)? Do you think it’s becoming more important in kid’s categories to reach moms and kids at an emotional level? What are some merchandise challenges in such a move?