HAPPY TOGETHER

In the era of solution selling, there is more than one solution when it comes to merchandising the synergistic categories film and batteries.Placing film, cameras and batteries together on a one-stop island display appears to be a no-brainer in spawning greater impulse sales. However, retailers interviewed by SN approach the categories using various philosophies. Perhaps the best approach is a combination

In the era of solution selling, there is more than one solution when it comes to merchandising the synergistic categories film and batteries.

Placing film, cameras and batteries together on a one-stop island display appears to be a no-brainer in spawning greater impulse sales. However, retailers interviewed by SN approach the categories using various philosophies. Perhaps the best approach is a combination of solution selling, in-line displays and impulse shippers.

Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., is an example of how merchandising photo batteries with film and cameras can pay off, according to Bill Dempsey, product manager for batteries at Eastman Kodak, Rochester, N.Y.

He said that up to about a year ago, Wegmans had most of its photo batteries "back in the battery aisle with the rest of batteries." There were few, if any, on the front-end film and battery display, where cameras were also offered.

The chain saw its photo battery sales jump by 60% after boosting the variety on front-end 3-D fixtures. Spinner racks of photo batteries were set up there and at photo departments.

The chain spotlighted its stores as a photo and battery destination by offering free camera battery tests to customers chainwide. Wegmans also placed coupons worth $1 toward the purchase of a Kodak photo battery in photo-developing envelopes.

Executives at Wegmans had no comment.

Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., has started to cross-merchandise film and batteries in new 12-foot shelf planograms near store entrances for high shopper visibility, an industry source said. The retailer also features the two together in ads and promotes film discounts related to battery purchases.

Combining film, batteries and cameras on a front endcap "is the way to go for one-stop shopping and impulse sales," said Sonny Ellis, director of health and beauty care and general merchandise at Associated Grocers, Baton Rouge, La. "As you look at one you see the other. Customers can drop film off for processing and pick up new film or camera batteries."

A dedicated endcap offering film, camera batteries and audio and videotapes, as well as a deposit box for film processing, creates a one-stop shopping concept and triggers impulse sales for Associated, according to Ellis.

On the other hand, among Associated's retailers, some larger stores have opted for separate 4-foot film and battery in-line sets. "These separate sections are next to each other and close enough so that they are in one location," said Ellis.

That's the tack Charles Yahn, vice president of Associated Wholesalers' York, Pa., nonfood division, advocates. While acknowledging the close relationship that has existed between batteries and film, Yahn said each has trended into its own year-round category.

"The two categories may not complement each other that much anymore. You're buying batteries, for example, for so many other things," he noted. While Homeland Stores, Oklahoma City, presents batteries, film and disposable cameras on a 3-D front endcap, "they're strong enough categories to merchandise by themselves," explained Mike Meyer, director of general merchandise and HBC.

Homeland also has two permanent in-line battery power panels for four-packs of AA and two-packs of C and D in other locations "that also do very well," said Meyer.

"Batteries and film don't always have to be merchandised together in one area. You'd miss too many incremental sales from secondary film or battery displays placed at other areas," he added.

In a December holiday photo special, Homeland featured Kodak's model 2000 Advantix cameras at $49 and placed the display unit in a highly visible area. Usually priced at $69 by other retailers, the final cost to Homeland's customers actually dropped to $30 with a mail-in Kodak rebate.

"We [sold] 500 of these cameras, which included a battery and roll of film, through the stores in a few weeks. Frankly, I didn't expect this promotion would do as well as it did, but it showed consumers had an awareness of the value of a good-quality camera at that price," Meyer said.

Although many of his retailers have film and batteries on a 3-D endcap in order to tie them in with the photo drop box on the display unit, "this may not necessarily be the best approach," said Dick Swain, president of Valu Merchandisers, the nonfood subsidiary of Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesaler Grocers.

"While merchandising these together on the end stimulates impulse sales, what you're doing is cutting the amount of display space down for the products, and it hurts [sales]."