In an effort to generate a new revenue stream to bolster annual sales of US$500 million, Easton, Pennsylvania’s Binney & Smith has launched a direct retail company for flagship kids brand Crayola. Big Yellow Box by Crayola marks the company’s first foray into the growing direct sales channel, which, according to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, rang up sales of US$29 billion in 2003 (nearly doubling 1993′s US$15 billion). Of that US$29 billion, sales of leisure/educational products including books, toys and home videos accounted for US$2.34 billion (7.9%).
Big Yellow Box currently has 270 sales people – primarily moms with children under 14 – lined up to start hosting in-home parties and sell an entirely new line of craft-oriented projects that parents and children can do together.
The party format creates a convivial atmosphere for potential buyers and gives them hands-on experience with the new Crayola products that they wouldn’t get at traditional retail. Typically, the local BYB representative will organize an in-home party and give demonstrations while the partygoers set about completing one of the crafts. At the end of the night, each participant will walk away with a project packaged up in, you guessed it, a big yellow box. The rep then submits orders via a corporate website to be filled by Binney & Smith’s distribution center in Tennessee.
David Steinberg, BYB’s senior manager, says direct in-home sales is the best channel for the new products, which are packaged in large boxes that are too bulky and cumbersome for a retail peg display. But more importantly, since the new SKUs represent a different direction for the company, they shouldn’t be merchandised with everyday Crayola art materials. Staying out of competitive mass channels that trade on low prices also opens the door for higher price points (most of the BYB products run between US$18 and US$49.99).
The new product lines focus on personalizable, customizable ‘all-in-one-box’ kits that anyone, adult or child, can put together successfully. The first range includes offerings in the jewelry, girls’ accessories, home décor, gardening, keepsakes and pet accessories categories.
You’re Putting Me On jewelry, for example, taps into the tween girl self-expressive accessories trend with pewter charms that can be colored with translucent markers and then strung on chains in combinations reflecting the whims of the girls making them. Outer Spaces includes kits for paintable soccer balls, bird feeders and wind chimes, while Every Little Step has projects designed for kids as young as three. There’s a step stool, a puppy pajama bag and a ceramic tea party set that small children can go to town on with paints and markers.
The kits contain Crayola products such as markers, watercolor pencils and fabric markers, but Binney & Smith may use products from other manufacturers if a project requires tools outside of Crayola’s range. As for creating kits/products using licensed properties, Steinberg says he’s primarily open to looking at licenses that appeal to women. However, he adds, ‘if there was a children’s property that was highly relevant to a new craft activity, we would consider it.’