Sears Hopes Snapper Brand Will Bring More Green

Sears, which has been struggling with declining sales, says it will add a new line of Snapper lawn mowers to its brand portfolio. And Briggs & Stratton, which owns Snapper, will launch a marketing campaign next month to support the new line, sold exclusively at Sears.

For Sears, adding another well-respected name to its lineup, which already includes Craftsman and DieHard, can only be a good thing. Still, not only are times tough for Sears, they're pretty rugged in the lawn-care business, too.

Bogged down by real-estate woes, "the size of the U.S. garden and lawn power tools market has slipped since 2004," reports Mintel, a market research firm in Chicago, "declining 2% in 2005, 1.3% in 2006, and 2.7% in 2007, resting at $8.9 billion." And Sears has cited "notable" declines in its lawn and garden sales.

Consumers' first choice, Mintel reports, is to buy mowers from home-improvement stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot--followed by mass-merchandisers, including Wal-Mart, Target and K Mart. Sears comes in third.



While John Deere continues to lead the market, other key players include Husqvarna, Toro, which also includes the Lawn Genie and Lawn-Boy brands, and MTD Products, which owns Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yard-Man, White Outdoor, Yard Machines, and Bolens, Mintel says. Briggs & Stratton, which has long been long a supplier of engines used for power mowers, acquired Simplicity and the Snapper Brand in 2004.

Still, the Snapper line is bound to have broad appeal. Not only is it well known to consumers (Snapper launched the industry's first self-propelled rotary mower back in 1951), the product line, exclusive to Sears, includes the "hot" lawn toy, a zero-turn riding mower. It also includes three new self-propelled walk-behind mowers, and two new lawn tractors.

The Snapper national ad campaign will include radio and print, says a B&S spokesperson, and feature Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and a Snapper pitchman since 2004. (BVK in Milwaukee is the agency.)

In addition, a new interactive Snapper site is set to debut at later this month.

Mower sales peak beginning in February in the south, and then into April and early May in the north, the spokesman says.

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