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Ozone enters the tween furniture stratosphere

Room décor has been blowing up as a category lately, so it was only a matter of time before someone took that literally. Funhouse, the recently renamed kids furniture division of New York's The Betesh Group, will introduce a new line of super-stylin' inflatable chairs and pillows called Ozone. Each SKU comes with a built-in iPod/MP3 player-compatible speaker, so wired kids can rock out while reclining.
February 1, 2006

Room décor has been blowing up as a category lately, so it was only a matter of time before someone took that literally. Funhouse, the recently renamed kids furniture division of New York’s The Betesh Group, will introduce a new line of super-stylin’ inflatable chairs and pillows called Ozone. Each SKU comes with a built-in iPod/MP3 player-compatible speaker, so wired kids can rock out while reclining.

Jonathan Breiter, senior VP of The Betesh Group, says the line came to the company through an inventor, and was cool enough that Funhouse decided to manufacture it as the only non-licensed furniture in its lineup. ‘We see it as a good opportunity for channels of distribution that don’t necessarily support licenses or aren’t as interested in them,’ he says, citing Urban Outfitters and Bed Bath & Beyond as two examples.

Hitting retail floors in May, the first wave includes the Bubble Lounger (US$39.99), Capsule Chair (US$29.99) and the Space Rocker (US$29.99), constructed from white vinyl and featuring red, yellow, purple or blue flocking. Two speakers are mounted on the sides of each chair and have universal plug-in jacks that can handle most music-playing devices. The Pillow Pods and Eardrum Pillows range from US$9.99 to US$29.99, and come in a variety of shapes, such as neck rolls, wedges and pillows marketed specially to gamers. Each SKU also comes with its own air pump.

Additionally, Funhouse is releasing the Crash Bag (a bean bag chair) this summer for US$39.99, featuring a patented valve that enables users to let just enough air out to create form-fitting cradles for their behinds.

The company stopped making furniture targeted at tweens and teens about five years ago because the market dropped out for a while. But Bretier says renewed interest in the demo, and the added technology, should give the line an edge. With so much on the market targeting tweens, he says the best way to stand out to this finicky demo is with great packaging, including cool graphics, typefaces and a hip name. Because this media-savvy group is much harder to attract through traditional tactics than the six to 11 set, he’s also exploring grassroots and guerilla marketing techniques for the product launch.

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