BRADFORD, PA. Zippo fires up campaign to license its name to others for products
Zippo's next product will be a multipurpose lighter with a flashlight.
BRADFORD, Pa. (AP) -- When most people hear the name Zippo, they think of lighters, but the name soon could conjure up images of grills and patio heaters, the company's president said.
The Zippo Manufacturing Co. is considering putting its name on products other than lighters -- most likely rugged items made of stainless steel or other durable metals -- but probably wouldn't manufacture the products, Zippo President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Booth told the Bradford Era.
"Zippo has never licensed its name to be used on products other than our own," Booth said. "We are pursuing licensing very aggressively at this point, and it will be a significant piece of our plan moving forward."
The company has contacted a marketing company to develop the products and is in discussions with a retailer, but Booth would not give additional details.
State of the market
This isn't a sign that the lighter market is waning, he said.
"The smoking market in general is declining. There is more pressure on people to stop smoking. When you have that combination, you have got to do something," Booth said.
Zippo hired Pittsburgh advertising company Blattner Brunner to step up its marketing after a two-year slide in sales. Sales this year are about 30 percent higher than last year, he said.
The company's primary product will always be lighters, but Booth acknowledged that Zippo needs to diversify. It has been making its classic brass-and-chrome box lighters -- about 375 million of them -- since 1932.
"We are what we are -- we are a cigarette lighter," Booth said.
Well before it puts its name on additional products, in the spring of 2004, Zippo will start to sell an improved multipurpose lighter. It will be a waterproof, more durable version of a lighter it released last year, and unlike the first generation, it will have a flashlight feature.
"This will be an outdoor [lighter] that is geared for hiking, camping and other activities," Booth said.
The release of the lighter's first version marked the first time a Zippo product was sold in a wide range of discount and home-improvement stores. Zippo is also developing a pocket, refillable butane lighter that should be on the market in 2005.