CRAYOLA CHANGES MARKETING TO ACCOUNT-SPECIFIC PROGRAM

SAN FRANCISCO -- The maker of the Crayola brand line of products, Binney & Smith Inc., Easton, Pa., has shifted its focus from national to account-specific consumer promotions -- a change that will be apparent next year."Retailers are more savvy these days and are demanding programs to meet their goals. I think you're hearing a lot of that today," said Mitchell Weissbein, manager of consumer promotion

SAN FRANCISCO -- The maker of the Crayola brand line of products, Binney & Smith Inc., Easton, Pa., has shifted its focus from national to account-specific consumer promotions -- a change that will be apparent next year.

"Retailers are more savvy these days and are demanding programs to meet their goals. I think you're hearing a lot of that today," said Mitchell Weissbein, manager of consumer promotion for the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark Cards. "Binney & Smith must work with the store to deliver our brand message and our consumer programs."

Speaking at a conference here sponsored by the Marketing Advisory Council, Weissbein said the one-size-fits-all promotions that were the norm for his company and other brand marketers throughout the 1980s have lost their relevance, as retailers seek programs to fit their individual needs.

In the past, Binney & Smith ran three promotions annually -- spring, back-to-school and holiday. The new program takes the budget from one seasonal promotion and divides the money among the sales staff, which then works with retailers to plan customized, exclusive promotions.

"We needed an approach that could provide program flexibility and variety. We wanted consumer promotions that were turn-key, easy to execute and administer, creative, and delivered incremental volume with cost-effective return on our investment," Weissbein said.

The company retained marketing agency Market Growth Resources, Wilton, Conn., to plan and structure the promotions. With input from Binney & Smith's staff and its customers, MGR developed C.O.Lo.R.S. -- Customized Options for Local Retailer Support -- which offers retailers 14 promotion options.

Looking ahead, Weissbein said promotions will grow more and more specific until they are carried out on a store-by-store basis rather than a chain-by-chain basis.