Rayovac recharges market

Rayovac Canada, the country's number three alkaline battery company, is hoping the introduction of Renewal this summer will take it to number one in the rechargeable market.Renewal rechargeable alkaline batteries, launched September 1993 in the u.s. by Wisconsin-based Rayovac, will hit...

Rayovac Canada, the country’s number three alkaline battery company, is hoping the introduction of Renewal this summer will take it to number one in the rechargeable market.

Renewal rechargeable alkaline batteries, launched September 1993 in the u.s. by Wisconsin-based Rayovac, will hit Canadian shelves in June or July with advertising getting underway in the fourth quarter.

In Canada, the annual retail battery market is worth about $237 million.

Caroline Yustin, Rayovac Canada marketing manager, estimates the rechargeable segment comprises about 4% of that figure.

Yustin says she believes Renewal can capture a major chunk of the segment, noting that since its introduction south of the border the brand has secured 56% of the u.s. reusable market.

She says Renewal has also expanded the category both by getting more people to try reusable systems and by taking business away from other rechargeables and throw-away brands, among them Energizer, Duracell, and Rayovac.

Yustin says rechargeable alkaline batteries are making a dent in the market not only because they save money but also because they result in less environmental pollution.

She says Renewal batteries have the life of 10 to 13 single-use alkaline batteries. They come fully charged, have a five-year shelf life and can be recharged 25 times or more per battery depending on usage.

On the environmental side, Yustin says the fact Renewal brand does not contain mercury or cadmium means it is less hazardous in landfill sites. As well, because it’s reusable, fewer spent batteries will wind up landfill sites.

While Rayovac in the u.s. has to position itself only against rechargeables using older nickel cadmium technology and throw-away alkalines, Yustin points out that Rayovac Canada has another rechargeable alkaline battery company to compete against in this market place.

Pure Energy Battery of Toronto launched its Pure Energy brand last October.

Both Renewal and Pure Energy use technology developed by Battery Technologies of Richmond Hill, Ont.

Rayovac bought manufacturing rights for the u.s. and parts of Europe, where it already has production facilities, while Pure Energy purchased Canadian manufacturing rights.

The two companies have no boundary restrictions on marketing and distribution, but by acquiring the manufacturing rights to specific countries they have gained the advantage of being able to bring product to market more cost effectively.

Pure Energy will be entering the u.s. later this year. It already has a distribution deal in Japan and agreements are near completion for Europe, Germany, Israel, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

Rayovac and Pure Energy should have virtually no competition, if any, in the rechargeable alkaline business worldwide. Battery Technologies has close to 30 patents on the product, which it expects will make copycat manufacturing virtually impossible.

David Guy, Pure Energy vice-president of sales and marketing, welcomes Renewal’s entrance into Canada. ‘Another player in the market can only help. We will benefit from each other’s advertising as it increases consumer awareness.

‘There’s a viable market for rechargeable alkalines and Eveready and Duracell will now have to take us very seriously.’

Currently, Pure Energy is marketing only aa batteries, the size which accounts for about 60% of the category, and a charger that accommodates that size of battery.

This fall Pure Energy will introduce aaa batteries, the fastest growing segment, and will sell its battery packs with a free adapter so they can be recharged with the existing charger. Next year, c and d batteries will be added to the line-up.

Guy says Renewal and Pure Energy batteries and chargers are interchangeable.

Renewal batteries will be available in all four sizes – aaa, aa, c and d with package prices ranging from $8 to $9.

The prices are in line with Pure Energy’s and fall between the cost of disposable alkalines and the more expensive nickel cadmium rechargeables.

For recharging, two models of Renewal Power Station chargers will be sold separately. A portable unit to charge up to four aa or aaa batteries will be priced around $24 and a table top unit that will charge up to eight in any combination of sizes at about $45.

Creative for Rayovac Canada will come from u.s. agency fcb/ Leber Katz Partners of New York, but media has yet to be decided. It is thought Optimedia, fcb Canada’s media arm, might get the nod.

Yustin feels Rayovac’s u.s. campaign will play well in Canada. Three tv spots focus on the money-saving and environmental benefits of Renewal in home, school and leisure settings. The brand tagline is, ‘Smart Move’.

Pure Energy took a more aggressive stance last fall when it launched its $3 million ad campaign, created by Bozell Palmer Bonner. In a controversial tv spot, ‘Mr. Duracell’ and ‘Mr. Energizer’ were warned to move over because Pure Energy had ’25 times more power in it’.

Pure Energy was threatened with legal action by the Eveready Division of Ralston Purina Canada, maker of Energizer batteries, and at the initiation of Duracell went through the trade dispute procedure of the Canadian Advertising Foundation.

The spot was amended to say ‘up to 25 times’ more power and Pure Energy has backed up its claims with test results from Battery Technologies that show rechargeable alkalines can be reused hundreds of times.

Pure Energy has a direct marketing campaign scheduled for March and April and will be back on tv with new creative in the fall.