Eureka’s entry into the extractor business, Regina’s introduction of an entirely new and redesigned line of extractors, combined with heavy ad plans from these players as well as Hoover, Bissell and Ryobi are making extractors the linchpin in one of the floor care segment’s most aggressive marketing battles in recent years, said retailers and vendors attending last week’s International Housewares Show here.
While all the attention is expected to help the category, which is expected to reach annual unit sales of 2 million units by year end, the flood of new products is squeezing existing shelf space. The result could mean a realignment of existing floor care sections as retailers search for space for the fast-growing category.
“There is obviously not room for all of these products, ” said the floor care buyer for one mass merchant. “We win have to make some careful choices. ”
“We expect that some retailers may pare their upright assortment from say 12 to 10 SKUs to make room for more extractors,” noted David Baker, product director for uprights, canisters and bags at Hoover
Whatever the decision, floor care vendors at this show disclosed their intention to make the fight for floor space as active as any the industry has seen. Eureka reported its largest ever ad campaign for 1996 to support not only its new Dream Machine upright extractor, but its full line of vacs.
Hoover, which rolled out its second generation Steam Vac in time for the fourth quarter, reported exceptional sales. The unit, which features five rotating brushes for fuller cleaning, also got an update here with the addition of a model with on-board tools.
“We’re not convinced that all consumers want on-board tools for an extractor,” said Brian Girdlestone, Hoover’s president. “It’s not quite the same as with an upright, where you want to take the wand and clean the stairs or between the sofa cushions. But for those consumers who like that feature, we wanted to give them that option.”
In addition to its extractor refinements, Hoover showcased its new Twist & Vac hand vacuum cleaner with rotating head. The nozzle on the unit rotates 90 degrees to facilitate cleaning in tight spots.
Bissell, which gave birth to the category at mass retail with its infomercials for the little and Big Green Clean Machines, added to its”Green” family at the show here last week with the introduction of the Little Green Deluxe, spot extractor and window cleaner.
“Extractors are becoming a very competitive segment,” said Bill Coad, Bissell’s president. “It’s been a strong growth area and as a result we’re seeing a lot of new players coming into the category.”
The company plans an aggressive advertising campaign that includes spots on popular television shows such as NBC’s Mad About You, for both its extractors and its Bissell Plus upright.
“We are committed to being the number one share of voice in the extractor segment,” said Jim Krzeminski, vice president of sales and marketing at Bissell.
Regina took the wraps off three new upright extractors at the show, sporting redesinged designed body shapes, ergonomic handle designs, electronic shampoo release, new colors and packaging all designed to help the company regain its extractor share.
“We want to get in and re-establish ourselves as a player,” said Patrick Dinley, president of Norelco, Regina’s parent company. “We’ve fixed the quality issues, now we are going to concentrate on the marketing and product development sides. ”
In addition to the three new extractors, which are scheduled for third-quarter release, and hit promotional retails of $99, $129 and $149, the company unveiled a new line of uprights
The models range from 8 to 12 amps and have brush rolls from 12 to 16 inches. The new line along with Regina’s extractors and sticks has been completely repackaged to create a family look across the full assortment.
Ryobi, which will launch an infomercial this spring for its WipeOut spot extractor, took the wraps off its new web site here (see story page 76). The new site, which includes floor-care tips on things such as stain removal is one component in the company’s plans to expand awareness for its steadily growing product line.
Royal Appliance, was as active off the show floor as on, combining promotion of its new Broom Vac on the floor with private showings of its newest generation of hand vacs as well as a more fully featured upright, “that will allow us to hit a price point north of $150,” according to Michael Merriman, Royal’s chief executive.
The Broom Vac, an infomercial for which began on infomercial Dec. 26, “has exceeded our expectations,” said Merriman. He noted that the company hopes to create a new category with the product, which, according to the vac buyer for one consumer electronics and appliance chain, “is one of the really exciting products I’ve seen at this show. It has excellent suction and it’s really something different. “