Strike It Niche!
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As you know, trends have unstable life cycles. So you'd better get in while the getting's good.
Walk into any toy store, and you'll probably find a display of the colorful plastic figurines known as GoGo's Crazy Bones, licensed and distributed by Cleveland's Toy Craze Inc. There's also a collector's magazine, as well as an official handbook, for all 160 of the pocket-sized pieces, which are inspired by an ancient Greek tradition in which children collected the knuckle bones of sheep for games similar to today's marbles or jacks.
Grooming concepts are opening up to a group of previously overlooked consumers--men. With barber shops nearing extinction, full-service men's grooming salons like Fritz's The Ultimate Grooming Experience in Louisville, Kentucky; Sports Clips Inc. in Washington, DC; and American Male in Reading, Pennsylvania, offer consumers everything from color and perming to--as American Male likes to put it--"hand detailing." Even nail-care manufacturers, like North Hollywood, California's OPI, have taken advantage of this recent interest with a line of male-inspired nail strengtheners and low-gloss finishing products.
Today's tots comprise an upscale niche all their own. Everything from high-end cosmetics (Bobbi Brown's Baby Essentials) to designer diaper bags (Prada) and surf trunks (Quicksilver)--even cashmere sweaters (Donna Karan)--are being scooped up by proud, prosperous parents. And now Pottery Barn has shrunk their finest wares down to size, affirming that appealing to baby can means beaucoup bucks.
Death Becomes Us
Cars, stationery, dishes, towels--just when you thought there was nothing left to personalize, we've discovered a final (resting) place for consumers to distinguish themselves. WhiteLight's Art Caskets are personalized caskets (priced at less than $3,000) that display, for example, a landscape painting or a laminated version of the Irish flag. Guess it's one way to express yourself in the great hereafter.
It's not just for sipping anymore. Tea-infused creations such as lotions and fragrances, even edible items like tea mousse, soups and shakes, are spotlighted as the hot new elixirs.
With sales of more than 2.5 million units, Nintendo's PokÃ©mon video game, an electronic, 15-category version of rock-paper-scissors, has gained the title of top-selling Game Boy cartridge and top-rated TV show. Successful in Japan since 1996, PokÃ©mon has inspired a vast line of trading cards, toys, home videos and comic books. Since being exported to the United States in 1998, the game has practically achieved cult status.
Fresh fruit, cakes, pudding, margaritas and martinis? No, this isn't a cruise buffet--it's the latest craze in the candle industry. San Diego's Lava Enterprises Inc., for one, has introduced its delectable Betty Crocker Bakery Candle Collection, and Kinzie Candles in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, has its own line of illuminating refreshments, including cherry cola and strawberry margarita. Yum!
- Euro-Smash: Since Nickelodeon's airing of British toon imports Maisy and Kipper, the baby-talking mouse and Brit-accented pooch have grabbed the attention of young audiences everywhere. (Contact Copyrights America, 973-292-5077, for licensing opportunities.) Now, all the way from Holland, hops the adorably simplistic Miffy the bunny, whose expansive line of merchandise is expected to dominate the U.S. kids' market. (For licensing information, call Kathie Fording at United Media, 212-293-8538.)
- Take your cue: Due to the success of ESPN's broadcast of the Women's Professional Billiards Association Pro Tour, increased consumer awareness of the sport has created a much broader market for billiards manufacturers
- Future flick: Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are is aimed to hit the big screen under the Universal Pictures banner, and with a kid at heart like Tom Hanks starring, we predict a winner. Licensing information isn't available yet, but we'll let you know when it's released.