• Lauren's High-End Image Drives Mass Market Profits
    Ralph Lauren has defied conventional wisdom by building a luxury-goods empire with a major portion of sales from moderately priced brands. His ability to juggle so many brands in so many price categories and retail channels without tainting his luxury image is a model the rest of the fashion industry hopes to emulate. Lauren's high-low straddle has succeeded largely because of a meticulous focus on his high-end image. All of the labels--including Lauren by Ralph Lauren, RRL, RLX, Polo Sport, Rugby and even Chaps--bask in the halo of Polo's vaunted "Black Label" collections, which are shown on New York ...
  • Palm Will Market Smartphone Companion
    Palm yesterday unveiled a laptop-like device called the Foleo designed to let users manage and edit their e-mails and other documents by communicating with their smartphones through a wireless Bluetooth connection. The gadget--which comes with a full-size keyboard and 10-inch display--will be available in the summer at a suggested price of $599. Palm's founder, Jeff Hawkins, has long envisioned that smartphones would become the most prevalent personal computer, eventually being able to do everything a desktop model can do. On Wednesday, he said the Foleo "completes the picture" of a mobile-computing system. But initial reviews indicate that the ...
  • LivingXL Catalog Caters To The Obese
    Casual Male Retail Group has launched "LivingXL," an online and print catalog it hopes will parlay the marketing know-how it has gleaned from its 500 Casual Male XL stores into the largely untapped market for specialty products for obese men and women. The catalog features products such as a "Big John" toilet seat with a 1,200-pound capacity ($124.95) and a lawn chair that supports up to 800 pounds ($139.95). LivingXL is the incarnation of www.SuperSizeWorld.com, a Vancouver, Wash.-based online store that Casual Male bought for $400,000 last October. The switch to a new name was in keeping with ...
  • Sales Sputter For Green Machines
    Early efforts to get consumers to purchase powered outdoor equipment--such as snowblowers and lawnmowers--that use alternative energy sources has had less than rousing results. For example, the response has been tepid for a propane-powered mower made by Dixie Chopper, a maker of high-end riding mowers, despite the company's efforts to drum up sales by riding a mower cross-country. Environmentalists support fighting pollution by finding alternative-energy sources for small engines, not just focusing on cars and trucks. But it's not clear that consumers are willing to pay more for greener small engines, or that they will change their fueling ...
  • Coke And Pepsi Will Curtail Animal Tests
    Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are the latest-and biggest--companies to respond to scrutiny by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They agreed to stop directly financing research that uses animals to test or develop their products, except where such testing is required by law. PETA researchers sought the assurances after discovering studies financed by the companies that used animals like rats and chimpanzees to test taste perception and, in some cases, to bolster support for promotional health claims. In one study involving a Coca-Cola scientist, financed by Nutrasweet, chimpanzees' faces were cut open to study nerve impulses used in ...
  • Former Ad Agency Warned Wal-Mart On Image Problem
    A confidential report written by Wal-Mart's ad agency from 1974 until last year, GSDM, says that the retailer's cherished strengths--its reputation for discounts, its all-in-one shopping format and its enormous selection--"work against us" as it tries to move upscale. The chain "is not seen as a smart choice" for clothing, home d├ęcor, electronics, prescriptions and groceries, the report says. It contends, for example, that "our low prices actually suggest low quality" for products like HD televisions. And it says that Target, with its designer-inspired clothing and furniture, feels "like the 'new and improved,' while Wal-Mart often feels like the ...
  • Microsoft Offering Computer With Tabletop Display
    Microsoft today will publicly unveil a machine it calls "Microsoft Surface" that uses the tabletop as its high-resolution display, recognizes objects placed on the surface and skips a keyboard and mouse in favor of fingers on the screen. In one use, people place a card on the table to call up a virtual stack of digital photos from a computer server and then rotate, resize and spread them across the table using their hands. In another, diners split a tab by dragging icons of their meals to their credit cards. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Harrah's Entertainment and T-Mobile ...
  • $200 Smart Pen Computer Also Records Voices
    Livescribe--a "smart pen" with a computer that can record up to 100 hours of lectures and tie the recording to digitized versions of handwritten notes--is being introduced today at the D: All Things Digital conference. Notes taken with the pen can be uploaded to a laptop computer and then searched for key words. Jim Marggraff, CEO of Oakland-based start-up Livescribe, says the new product will connect pen and paper with the digital world. Marggraff pioneered the creation of the LeapPad toys for children, the LeapPad with a microphone, and the Fly PenTop computer for kids, also made ...
  • Nike Races To Join Low-Profile Sneaker Pact
    Nike finds itself playing catch up to more fashion-conscious brands since European shoppers and U.S. skate-boarders started buying low-profile sneakers that top out at the ankle rather than mid-calf. Sales of such shoes grew 4.4% to $4.7 billion in 2006, surpassing sales of basketball shoes and second only to running shoes, according to figures compiled by NPD Group. The trend is taking place at the same time the general fashion silhouette is changing -- from an oversized look with chunky shoes--especially for boys and men--to a slimmer profile. Nike's low-profile Metro shoe is doing "very well" ...
  • Gannett Launching USA Today Branded Books
    Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, will use its USA Today brand on books. Six companies--including Sterling Publishing, a division of bookseller Barnes & Noble, and Nolo, a legal information publisher--have licensed the brand. USA Today-branded books will feature the past year in sports, puzzles and consumer guides to law, taxes, buying and selling real estate and retirement issues, the company says. It also plans to use the brand on calendars and other consumer products. Books produced using the brand will feature graphics and content from its newspaper. The McLean, Va.-based Gannett also plans to mark the ...
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