COCKEYSVILLE, MD -- A little more than a year after launching its redemption product portfolio, A&A Global Industries Inc. says it's making its mark in the prize supply sector, thanks to a winning strategy. Entering a crowded field of prize suppliers to family entertainment centers and operators of amusement merchandisers in October 2014, the Cockeysville, MD-based company cut its teeth as a bulk vending supplier for almost 80 years. A&A is endeavoring to bring the same flair that made it the leading bulk supplier to redemption, and operators are taking notice.
A pioneer in premium merchandise, high-profile licenses and eye-catching displays in bulk, A&A's successful track record is well known. Most notably, while bulk vending traditionally relied on generic merchandise or dubious knockoffs, A&A moved into licensing to bring out products based on professional sports teams, Cartoon Network hit shows and such pop culture niche products as Homies. But can the company work that same brand of magic in the amusement product sector, which supplies plush and other higher-priced merchandise?
"A&A Global was already in redemption for many years. Our bulk items are perfect for bin toys," said A&A redemption division manager Barbara Suter, who is based in the company's Olathe, KS, facility. "Now we want to grow the business and enhance the product line to be more of a one-stop-shop."
For those who attend trade shows, this one-stop-shop strategy is evident in the steadily expanding A&A exhibits that now showcase a growing number of new redemption products. The company features more than 1,000 redemption items, many of them licensed originals, with more scheduled to hit the market on a regular basis.
What made A&A's vendible toys perfect for bins was the products' familiar licenses, combined with the unique design," Suter said. "This combination gave A&A's toys the same high-perceived value among redemption counter consumers scanning the bins in an FEC as they had among bulk customers shopping capsule merchandise at the local supermarket's vending rack."
Now the company is betting that same approach will work for higher-value redemption merchandise. "Our strategy is to grow and strengthen our lines using our licensor partners and our creative abilities for product development," said Suter. "Right now we have eight different new brands we've come out with, and we're working with licensors to come up with new items."
A&A's bulk vending marketing strategy is uniquely transferable to redemption, offering a line of high-quality, licensed products exclusive to its brand. And the company's existing relationships with licensors, combined with the in-house creative expertise of an experienced design and art department, have given A&A a strong start in the field.
It's What We Do
"Our goal is to offer original, innovative and creative products," said A&A executive vice-president Brian Kovens. "I may be the new kid in town, but we've been in business for 75 years. We are trying to do things the A&A way, and put the A&A spin in it, and be unique, and be innovative."
Kovens explained that there are differences between bulk vending and redemption products. Mainly, the redemption demographic is much wider than that of bulk vending. While bulk vending has made some inroads into older consumers in recent years, its primary customer base remains young, preteen patrons.
"We're focusing on a market from the preteens through the teenagers with our redemption line," Kovens said. "However, it is a very similar customer base, and very similar method of distribution. It's an extension of the coin-operated industry, which is what we know and what we do."
Kovens admits that there is a distance between bulk and redemption, but it is only a small step. "We know how to create great product, and we know how to deliver great service," he said. "So redemption is a natural expansion into a different market for us."
At this point, so early in the game, A&A says the responses to its redemption products have been positive. And it is a good bet the company that was so integral in transforming bulk vending might just do the same for redemption.
A&A ships supplies from distribution centers in Baltimore and Los Angeles.
BIG SLICE: A&A Global Industries Inc., a company best known for its innovative bulk merchandise, now wants to claim a slice of the redemption supply market. Pictured above, a young amusement fan at the recent IAAPA Attractions Expo shows off one of A&A's new redemption prizes. Pizza Pool Float is an oversized replica of a slice constructed of extra-thick durable vinyl.