Question: What does it take to draw weary, economically distressed mall shoppers to your kiosk, and then have them enthusiastically lay out dollars for your merchandise?
Answer: Strong demo products with a “wow” factor that relieve customer aches and pains right on the spot if that is what they wish. So says John Scheerz, Director of Marketing at Woodlands, CA based TOL, Inc. For ten plus years, TOL has been successfully bringing innovative products to market and delighting shoppers worldwide.
What is exciting Scheerz and others in his group currently is their product line called, Body Comfort. Body Comfort is a line of small to large hot and cold packs, but they do not have to be put in the microwave or plugged into an electrical outlet. Rather, Body Comfort instant reusable hot and cold packs require only that you flex a metal disc in the pack, and then watch as it heats up to a perfectly controlled 130 degrees of heat. This means that the user can take advantage of this product anywhere, anytime, for hot, dry heat comfort at a therapeutic 130 degrees. And 130 degrees does not burn human flesh, it brings relief.
The Body Comfort heat pack will typically maintain the 130 degree temperature for around 20 minutes, and remain hot for 30 minutes to one hour or longer. According to Scheerz, all Body Comfort heat packs contain water and food grade sodium acetate (a form of salt), so everything is organic. The metal disc inside is made of stainless steel, and the outer shell is medical grade plastic. By flexing (not breaking or cracking in half) the stainless steel disc, small molecules turn into a solid state, which then creates a chain reaction, causing the solution to crystallize and instantly heat to the predetermined temperature of 130 degrees F, or 53 degrees C. The pack can create heat for a long period of time because all of the liquid does not crystallize at the same moment. Molecules that were not required to heat the pack to its maximum temperature will remain liquid and crystallize as required, thus maintaining the maximum temperature.
Best yet, the unit is easily reusable a limitless number of times, as long as the bag and/or the stainless steel disc are not damaged. It is recharged as follows: once the pack has given off all of its heat, it becomes crystallized. To turn those crystals back into a liquid state and get them ready for the next use, place the pack in boiling water and heat it for a period of five to ten minutes, without letting the vinyl coating touch the pot or bowl directly, or until all of the crystals have melted back to a clear liquid state. Once the heat pack is back in its liquid state and cools down, it is ready for reuse as a heat pack, or it can be used as a cold pack or ice pack by placing it either in the refrigerator or the freezer.
Scheerz contends that the Body Comfort heat pack is a premier kiosk product. “The kiosk business today, pound for pound, is still one of the easiest businesses to get into with the quickest return on investment, unlike a franchise or licensed program. You can get into the cart market for a few thousand dollars in product and a few thousand in rent. If you work it yourself, you can get into business for $5,000 to $10,000, and you can turn that money around and pay yourself back within 60 days. I still have not found another business that has that ability.” Scheerz, who is 34, got into retailing and carts at the age of 17. More than half the people he works with at TOL have had similar, “boots on the ground,” experience in this market. Although the kiosk market is a fabulous one, the key to success naturally is coming up with the right product, in the right place, at the right time. Scheerz says that fewer and fewer concepts have the right margin and the right appeal to consumers. “You cannot sell products on carts when you are making only a 50 percent margin. So the products that are doing well today are the demonstration products such as hair irons, cosmetics, skin care, and body wellness products. There are also the staple goods that do well, including sunglasses, cell phone accessories, and Christmas ornaments. Those products continue to thrive.”
Scheerz says that the Body Comfort heat pack line has something else as well, a wow factor. “I have sold hundreds of products, but this one continues to amaze me,” he states. “The product has a wow factor even before you, the kiosk owner, say a word. Once you click the disc and the pack heats up, consumers want to know how does it work, is it reusable, what does it do? It is a great captive and non-captive demonstration item. It really does not take a carnival barker or a hardcore pitchman to sell this product. It is a great demonstration product that engages the customer.” The wholesale pricing on the Body Comfort line ranges from just a few dollars up to $12, depending on the item, but the baseline retail on these products is between $20 and $50. “We have a couple of items that sit in the $7 to $10 retail range,” says the Director of Marketing. “The pricing is similar to what people expect to spend for related drug store heat pack products, but they get ten times the benefit with this product.”
The firm also has a patent pending on aroma therapy for this product. Says Scheerz, “We are working on some very cool, innovative products that we will introduce this year, but really taking it into a much deeper sports therapy hot-cold treatment, along with much more luxury to appeal to the customer.”
TOL offers great resources for those coming into the business, including training tools, videos, onsite training, and suggested orders. “We have sample packs and technical information about the products, so that the kiosk owner can understand the basics of how hot and cold therapy works, the basic sales pitches and so forth. We have a very complete turnkey program, and we have a complete A to Z program to help the amateur and pro alike to move forward and sell our product.” Can this product share space, or is it for the kiosk alone? According to Scheerz, Body Comfort is one of those products that can fit in well with related products in a kiosk, or it can be the stand alone star of the kiosk. The critical factor is that it has to be demonstrated to wow the potential customer.
TOL, Inc. has a number of product lines in the marketplace. Besides Body Comfort, the firm sells a line of toys at retail; it has a line of Jose Eber curling and straightening irons, inspired by this world famous hairdresser; Etre, a unique line of facial peels, masks, moisturizers, scrubs and nail and body care, and a line of hair extensions called, Via Monte.
For more information:
John Scheerz, Director of Marketing
19720 Ventura Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91364