NONFOOD BATTLES

What are the most important nonfood product categories now being sold in supermarkets, and what fate is being dealt those categories as consumers decide whether to buy them in the supermarket or elsewhere?cular order): housewares, greeting cards, pet supplies, batteries and film.Sales trends that pertain to these categories in supermarket commerce aren't overly auspicious; the fact is these categories

What are the most important nonfood product categories now being sold in supermarkets, and what fate is being dealt those categories as consumers decide whether to buy them in the supermarket or elsewhere?

cular order): housewares, greeting cards, pet supplies, batteries and film.

Sales trends that pertain to these categories in supermarket commerce aren't overly auspicious; the fact is these categories are under extreme pressure from other channels of trade, notably mass merchants, as has been the case for some time.

But, as you'll see by looking at the news article on Page 49, which is also referred to on Page 1, there are strategies supermarket operators are using in an effort to ameliorate the outflow of dollars.

Let's take a closer look at each of these key categories to see how they're doing in supermarkets, and elsewhere, and what might be done:

Housewares: Mass merchants drive most of the sales in this category, but supermarket sales are actually growing faster than those of other channels of trade. Cross merchandising is always a useful method to keep this category in front of shoppers. Incremental business is being done in supermarkets by specifically tying certain kitchenware items to "healthy" cooking, and by demonstrating their use during in-store cooking classes.

Greeting cards: Supermarkets have a fairly robust market share in this category, and there is probably good upside potential left for supermarkets here. This vendor-driven category is being revamped now by manufacturers as they enhance marketing elements such as branded departments, market segmentation and value pricing.

Pet supplies: The dollar value of this category is increasing; the supermarket share has been about flat lately. Mass' share has been growing at the expense of drug. Some supermarket operators are taking this category more seriously and expanding footage and stockkeeping units to good advantage.

Batteries: Supermarkets' share of this category has risen a little recently, but mass and drug are up much more. Shoppers of this category seem to be saying price is paramount, so supermarkets could profit by finding the right balance between margin generation and price points. Flexibility on price could generate big sales gains here.

Film: Sales have been off for this category across the three channels of distribution, with supermarkets and drug taking the biggest hits. The decline could have been driven by poor spring weather, so the category may return as the year proceeds. Added manufacturer support now materializing may help make it so.

Take a look at the news article in the Home & Health section for more about these vital nonfood categories, and how they are being merchandised for profit in supermarkets.