BABY VIDEOS COME OF AGE

America's youngest consumers may not be able to dress themselves or even walk, but they have lots of options when it comes to video products.The trend in children's videos "is clearly to segment," said Greg Rediske, president, Video Management Co., Tacoma, Wash. "The category is broken down from infants and toddlers to pre-schoolers, to school age, to pre-teen. The baby videos have seen a big push

America's youngest consumers may not be able to dress themselves or even walk, but they have lots of options when it comes to video products.

The trend in children's videos "is clearly to segment," said Greg Rediske, president, Video Management Co., Tacoma, Wash. "The category is broken down from infants and toddlers to pre-schoolers, to school age, to pre-teen. The baby videos have seen a big push and are a new hot segment of late, with Baby Einstein and similar titles. Everyone seems to have their own baby video, along with the new toddler videos, including such topics as potty training.

Video Management, Rediske added, has not done much with this category yet since it is marketed at in-line departments, "and we have few. We do hit shippers, mostly. Price points are $14.99 to $19.99."

"Preschool franchises do well," said Bill Bryant, vice president, sales, Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn., "and this year DVD players are making their way into the play room. As a result, DVD sales are increasing in the preschool category. Dora the Explorer and Baby Einstein are selling well, and so are many other preschool franchises such as Bob the Builder, Barney and Veggie Tales."

Supermarkets should merchandise baby titles together with other baby products, such as infant formula and diapers, said Suzanne White, vice president of marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Culver City, Calif. "Mom is going in there to buy those other things. This offers the supermarket something unique. They know the mom is going there, and that she is going to be in that store at least two or three times a week, most likely in those areas."

"With infants, obviously, the parent is the gatekeeper and decides what they're going to buy for the child," said Lori MacPherson, vice president of brand marketing for Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Burbank, Calif. "Obviously everyone wants to be a good parent, so they tend toward things like our Baby Einstein line, for example, which is the No. 3-selling infant line. I don't want to say it's educational because it doesn't have a curriculum, but at the same time it exposes babies to classical music, art and language. They're very developmental in that way."

Baby Einstein Co. is an innovator in the category of the infant developmental media category, and it is the best-selling brand of videos specifically designed for babies and toddlers, MacPherson said. Its line of videos, DVDs, Discovery Cards, books, audio CDs, puppets, toys and infant products expose little ones to the world around them through the use of real-world objects, music, art, language, science, poetry and nature. Baby Einstein's 18 videos are designed specifically for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old.

August will see the introduction of Walt Disney Home Entertainment's "Little Einsteins," a new, interactive program designed to "take preschoolers on thrilling musical adventures to real-world destinations, so that they can help solve important missions and learn along the way." Young viewers join the four Little Einsteins -- Leo, June, Quincy, Annie and their musical ship, Rocket -- as they sing, clap, pat, march, and use music to help complete their exciting missions.

The line's first DVD debuts Aug. 23. "Our Big Huge Adventure" is set to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and visits New York City, Niagara Falls, a spooky cave in Oklahoma, a beautiful butterfly forest in Mexico and more. "Little Einstein" will also debut as a television series on The Disney Channel.

In March, Disney rolled a pair of titles into its preschool line: "Disney Learning Adventures: Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk." Each brings what the company calls a "fresh approach to learning by providing a unique environment that encourages children to participate directly with the program." A host guides preschoolers through a story packed with learn-along activities that expand the story theme and engage children's attention. They are priced at $14.99 (VHS) and $19.99 (DVD).

In September, Disney introduced a new preschool product line, "Disney Learning Adventures," which combines early learning fundamentals with Disney stories and characters. The series of DVD and VHS titles was developed by Disney and leading educators for children ages 2 to 5.

The first two learning titles are "Winnie the Pooh ABC's: Discovering Letters And Words" and "Winnie the Pooh 123's: Discovering Numbers and Counting." Both titles feature never-before-seen original stories that entertain while they educate. Both DVDs include bonus songs and activities that reinforce the learning fundamentals presented in each title.

Also available is a special "Disney Learning Adventures" gift set containing both DVD titles with 37 illustrated flash cards A-Z, 1-10 and a parenting guide.

"Winnie the Pooh ABC's" and "Winnie the Pooh 123's" are available for $14.99 (VHS) and $19.99 (DVD). The "Disney Learning Adventures" gift set is priced at $39.99 (DVD only) and will be available on Oct. 12.