ACCESSORIZED: The NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based consumer research firm, is adding accessories to its product list.

The group announced the launch of the first tracking system for the U.S. accessories market. The service will monitor consumer purchasing for a range of accessories, including handbags, luggage, watches, jewelry, sunglasses and small leather goods.

"The accessories market is transitional," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of NPD Group. "It's fast-paced, a business you chase after. We never knew what was selling. We could track categories, but had no in-depth, long-term heritage of information — we were working in our own vacuum. Now we can provide insights for both brands and retailers, to track how accessories are faring against the rest of the marketplace as a predictable tool."

NPD uses two million panelists for interviews about their recent purchases. It also gets an estimated 40,000 responses per week about what consumers bought, what they didn't buy and what they wished they did. What these consumers revealed was their propensity to value brands highly, specifically the youth market.

"Sunglasses are very brand-centric," said Cohen. "We think of sunglasses as impulse purchases, but people are concerned about what to use for eyewear."

Watches also scored high in brand concentration, where consumers pay a premium price for status brands. But the number-one accessory on the list for women was earrings, followed by necklaces. For men, baseball caps topped the charts and wallets took second.

NPD Group said mass merchants like Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart are the biggest sellers of accessories units, although the Internet is quickly gaining speed. It will be another 18 months until NPD Group can measure and compare the size of the accessories market.

PUCCI SHADES: Marchon Eyewear has signed to manufacture and distribute Emilio Pucci eyewear.

"The collection will offer both sunglasses and optical frames that truly exemplify the legendary Pucci prints, designs and colors that have become a trademark of the brand," Al Berg, Marchon's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The line will bow in January 2008. Marchon produces eyewear for brands such as Calvin Klein, Coach, Michael Kors, Nike and Fendi.

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