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Eco-awareness moving beyond hybrid vehicles

BY CSA STAFF

Automotive manufacturers and oil companies are often viewed in a negative light by sustainability proponents due to their historically negative impact on the environment. However, when it comes to automotive aftermarket retailers, they are actually in a position to benefit from growing consumer awareness of the environment, and new research provides insight into how that can happen.

Nearly 60% of consumers said they had changed their driving behavior because of increased fuel costs, based on a survey conducted in early September by the firm Opinion Research Corp., on behalf of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. When asked how their behavior had changed, 91% said they were driving less, 75% said they were maintaining their vehicles better and 30% said they bought a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The online survey included 571 households.

The shifting consumer sentiment, especially the part about improved maintenance, equals opportunity for automotive aftermarket retailers, which is why later this month when AAIA holds its annual AAPEX trade show in Las Vegas, there will be a special area on the show floor called “The Green Zone” dedicated to companies who want to showcase products and share information about environmentally friendly opportunities.

“The automotive aftermarket is one of the most environmentally friendly industries in the world,” said Bill Glasgow, senior AAPEX show manager. “The Green Zone will provide an exceptional opportunity for suppliers to showcase their products to the aftermarket, and for retailers and service shops to advance their expertise in this field.”

Featured in the Green Zone will be companies whose products and services retailers can sell to consumers to help make their vehicles more efficient and environmentally friendly. There will also be tools and diagnostic equipment used to repair hybrid cars, as well as suppliers that recycle waste or remanufacture parts.

For example, Philips Automotive Lighting will be in the Green Zone showcasing longer-life headlamp bulbs, while FDP Brakes will showcase its line of EcoStop disc brake pads and shoes. Green Earth Technologies will offer a line of G-branded products, including oils and washes, and Schrader Bridgeport International will feature its tire pressure monitoring system and retrofit kit.

In total, about 20 companies are expected to participate in the Green Zone, where they will occupy kiosks as opposed to a conventional trade show booth. The kiosks will be positioned in a high-traffic area near the show floor’s restaurant, ensuring exposure to virtually every attendee at the event. The prominent positioning is intended to generate awareness of the opportunity that exists with environmentally friendly products given the heightened awareness among consumers.

According to show organizers, a couple of factors are at play in that regard. The first generation of hybrids are reaching the point where they will require aftermarket repair parts, while fuel costs have consumers looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their vehicles. As a result, opportunities exist for retailers to create in-store merchandising displays that group environmentally friendly products together, or to create seasonal promotions around peak driving seasons when consumers are especially receptive to messaging about how improved vehicle maintenance can improve fuel efficiency.

While the size of the Green Zone at AAPEX, and the number of companies exhibiting in the area, represent a fraction of the total attendance at a show that will include 2,000 companies uncovering hidden gems that represent new opportunities is why retailers attend trade shows.

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Report: Baugur in buyout talks with Saks

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Saks’ second-largest shareholder, the Icelandic Baugur Group, reportedly is in talks with the company over a potential buyout deal.

According to reports, Baugur his been discussing a possible acquistion with Saks executives, however, it is not yet known if anything will come from these talks.

The move may be part of Baugur’s attempt to enter the U.S. market, reports indicate. The company already owns British retailers House of Fraser and Karen Millen.

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Penneys hires former Best Buy marketing exec

BY CSA STAFF

PLANO, Texas Former Best Buy marketing executive, Ruby Anik, has joined JCPenney as senior vp and director of brand marketing, effective Nov. 26, the company announced today. In her new position, Anik will oversee the development and execution of the company’s brand marketing strategy.

As senior vp of marketing communications and business operations for Best Buy, Anik directed all marketing communications disciplines for the Best Buy enterprise including brand public relations, internal communications, and event marketing as well as advertising strategy, advertising spending, and creative development and execution throughout North America. She also led Best Buy’s in-house agency, Best Buy Advertising (BBA). Anik joined Best Buy in 2000 as vice president of media and assumed full advertising responsibilities in 2002.

Before joining Best Buy, Anik served as director of advertising and media for The Pillsbury Company, where she had strategic control over the media budget and responsibility for all media research, strategy, planning and execution for three years.

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