Hooked on Rapid Growth
Paucek: That’s a great question. This year marks Hooked on Phonics’ 20th anniversary and, in celebration of this milestone, we are partnering with Zizzle on a mobile marketing tour called “Hooked on Phonics HOP Across America.” Visiting 10 key U.S. markets, the tour is designed to get parents and kids excited about reading and to show them how much fun learning to read can be.
Our tour bus will be outfitted with the latest and greatest “Hooked on Phonics” reading programs, such as “Learn to Read” and our new “Discover Reading” program for infants and toddlers, as well as new electronic games from Zizzle.
We’ll be hosting three-day events in each market, including a retail day, to generate consumer awareness and media exposure. As part of this celebratory event, we are partnering with First Book, a nonprofit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Through First Book, we will donate $1 million worth of reading programs to literacy organizations [to benefit] children and families who may not otherwise have access to these resources.
• HOP recently has had an explosion of new product launches in a relatively short span of time. To what do you attribute this growth?
Paucek: When Educate Inc. bought Hooked on Phonics in 2005, there was a total of four products in the line. In order for us to drive retail growth, we needed to expand our line, so we have the right products to place in the most opportunistic sections at retail. For example, we introduced a line of workbooks to sell in book sections [of stores], and we added new “Hooked on” titles, such as “Handwriting,” “Spelling” and “Language” programs, to further increase our retail presence.
• Hooked on Phonics now offers foreign-language products, such as “Hooked on Spanish” and “Hooked on Chinese.” What are your plans for reaching these markets and for expanding globally?