Power to the People

Power to the People

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According to the NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, DigiPower recently ranked No. 1 in both unit and dollar volume for digital camera batteries and chargers for all of 2009 as well as for the 12 months ending April 2010. Thus, we thought it might be a good idea to catch up with this company and find out a little more about what's making them tick these days.

Company President, Maurice Mizrahi, was gracious enough to spend some time with us and chat about the current state of the battery and charger market as well as what the future might hold in this ever-evolving category.

PB&ML: Talk to us about the interesting evolution of Mizco. Give the readers a little history lesson on the company.

Mizrahi: We established the company 20 years ago and really come from photo retail tradition. We opened with lines of bags, tripods, lenses and such—that's our roots. Later on we expanded into cell phone accessories. In 1996 we were one of first to offer a full line of cell phone accessories. We then quickly got into power solutions and actually opened a factory for the manufacture of battery packs for cell phones.

We saw a need for real power solutions for consumers and developed a digital camera powerpack which became the first DigiPower product in 1999. It was an external solution that provided 150 shots. It solved a big problem back then and from that point on we realized power would always be a major need. After all, there is only so much power you can put into a AA battery.

DigiPower was actually responsible for several firsts back then with the intro of the DPS 4000 powerpack and then the 8000 soon followed.

PB&ML: If you had to sum it up quickly—the recent run of success at DigiPower in the battery and charger categories—what is separating you from the pack in a crowded field?

Mizrahi: Innovation, that's the number one thing that sets us apart, followed closely by value. A product has to have value to the consumer but it's important that the value does not take away any of the products' unique features. We also think about price and value together in the sense of how the retailer benefits. The product has to make a margin. We keep that in mind as well and always produce products with high margin for dealers.

PB&ML: We are seeing a lot of solar power chargers come to market of late. Is this the future in this category? What else might be in store down the road?

Mizrahi: Our view is there are limitations to solar power. Currently, to charge two AA batteries might be a 24-hour charge for a small solar panel. For some of the smaller CE devices solar does work well, sometimes offering two- to three-hour charges.

Our plan is to go beyond that as we are joining the Wireless Power Consortium (see sidebar). We plan on working more closely with them as manufacturers are developing these embedded chips for mobile devices that will allow the device to charge on charging pads, a solution that we will develop, that brings everything together into one solution—–making it a more convenient charging solution for consumers.

PB&ML: Lots of technology changes happening in the battery category as well. What can retailers and consumers expect next?

Mizrahi: Lithium-ion is the dominant battery now and we feel that will continue for a while. I believe we will continue to see more product that will enhance the user experience. Our Jumpstart Slim product is a good example of this. The device weighs only two ounces and is very thin—shirt-pocket portability. The consumer is provided with this extra charge whenever they need it at a very affordable MSRP of $29.99. Very cool looking little gadget too. I think this market will see a lot more solutions like this moving forward.

PB&ML: As two “must have” accessories what tips and tricks can you offer imaging retailers on how best to display and move batteries and chargers?

Mizrahi: Display and placement. Retailers need to display a full selection that shows that they are servicing different needs. Service the consumer properly. Set up serious displays. Signage is important too. Make it clear that you're the place for this solution. Also, these accessories should be placed close to the devices that need them. Makes a statement to the consumer that their battery and charger accessory solutions are being taken care of at your location.

PB&ML: This mobile lifestyle we are all living today has been tough for imaging retailers to firmly grasp. What can you tell them about the future of the mobile life that will help them better understand their customers' ever-evolving needs?

Mizrahi: Come out of the darkroom! Imaging retailers have to understand imaging today. It's no longer a standalone industry but is now one that has evolved to become part of the overall consumer electronics industry. The fact that consumers can now take pictures, and pretty good ones, with their mobile phones is a good thing. It is bringing more people into imaging. Photography is so easy today. Today's consumer is shopping in non-traditional stores and today's imaging retailer can't survive as a traditional photo store anymore.

Sell solutions that enhance this mobile lifestyle. All these mobile devices and accessories are bringing people back in the store again and again. That's what our product line is all about.

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