Supermarkets offer the ideal stage for promoting special-interest videos.Many special-interest subjects can be easily tied into or cross-promoted with the thousands of products merchandised within both the food and nonfood departments at supermarkets."There are times during the year when you can sell a special-interest video in a supermarket by cross-promoting it with a lot of different products,"

Supermarkets offer the ideal stage for promoting special-interest videos.

Many special-interest subjects can be easily tied into or cross-promoted with the thousands of products merchandised within both the food and nonfood departments at supermarkets.

"There are times during the year when you can sell a special-interest video in a supermarket by cross-promoting it with a lot of different products," said Steve Jones, vice president and corporate marketing director at Video Home Theater, Des Moines, Iowa, and corporate marketing director at Video Home Theater's parent company, Iowa Periodicals, also in Des Moines.

"Supermarkets can obtain health and fitness tapes and other special-interest tapes such as 'Big Machine,' a video for kids, through Iowa Periodicals, our parent company, which is a magazine distributor. Right before Father's Day we put hunting and fishing tapes, baseball and football funnies on sale," Jones said.

Retailers can maximize special-interest promotions by keeping in mind key considerations that will ensure successful special-interest promotions. Here is what distributors and rack jobbers polled by SN recommended.

First, there needs to be a commitment on the part of both the retailer and supplier or distributor in staging special-interest promotions.

"Leadership or synergy between the two different companies making a commitment to its success" is necessary, said John Fincher, national account sales, Baker & Taylor, Morton Grove, Ill. "You have to have committed partners," he added.

Brian Ward, director of operations at The Movie Exchange, Audubon, Pa., stressed the need for overall coordination and keeping those involved with the promotion informed about it. "If the cross-promotion is only set up between the studio and the company promoting it, and the people at store level or the intermediate supplier level are not familiar with all of the details, the whole thing will fall through. There has to be a concerted effort from start to finish."

Keep it simple.

"Simplicity is a key element of a successful cross-promotion of a special-interest video in a supermarket," said Fincher of Baker & Taylor.

Selectrak Family Video, Hillside, Ill., which offers rental programs to supermarkets, has done a number of cross-promotions with rental videos in supermarkets.

"You cannot make it too difficult or labor-intensive at store level," said Paul Davidson, vice president and general manager of Selectrak. "If the promotion requires a lot of interaction from the store people, it will be much tougher to pull the promotion off successfully. Keep it simple. If both vendors assist with one-time setup, special displays or signage and the promotion is real simple to execute, then there is a higher probability of success."

Merchandise by adding incentives.

Bill Bryant, assistant vice president of major accounts and special markets at Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn., said his company has created events such as contests in which the winner gets to meet a celebrity as a tie-in with an exercise video.

"This year we are putting out a step machine as a premium item with the buy-in [of an exercise/fitness video] so that the major accounts can utilize it in whichever way makes sense. It can be a sales incentive for their employees or a consumer giveaway. It has to promote excitement," he said.

"All of the major accounts look to promote exercise videos in January. More recently studios have been suggesting that they want to extend the window for exercise videos, to extend it into the spring-break period, February and March," Bryant said.

Make it an exciting store event.

"I recommend live demonstrations that are exciting. We have done a video promotion with a how-to video, featuring the wok, 'Wok Before You Run,' ' said Fincher of Baker & Taylor.

The retailer may play the video next to a display of the videotapes or display the video next to a live demonstration, or next to other cooking videos, he added.

Christine Willis, marketing director at WaxWorks Video Works, Owensboro, Ky., suggested: "Tie the topic of the video to something physical or tangible, an event or activity."

For example, if it is a sports video or a diet video, consider a cross-promotion with a local sports center. A sports video could be cross-promoted by offering a free pass to a local gym. Or a fitness video could be cross-promoted with low-calorie entrees, she suggested.

Steve Zeigler, president of Grocer's Video Systems, Olathe, Kan., recommends a live demonstration and distribution of coupons for associated products for a successful cross-promotion of a special-interest video.

"If you want to promote how-to cooking videos, have a live cooking demonstration and in-store immediate redemption coupons for the products used in the cooking demonstration. Have the items prominently displayed. Have fliers and point-of-purchase materials out a week in advance of the video," he said.

Grocer's Video has cross-promoted workout tapes by staging a live workout and distributing instant redemption coupons for low-calorie entrees, Zeigler said.

"You have to have enough people [exercising] to draw attention. You also have to have prominent displays, point-of-purchase and aggressive pricing. Point-of-purchase and bag stuffers should be distributed at least a week in advance," he said.

Pricing is critical.

Zeigler of Grocer's Video Systems stressed the importance of promoting the video at the right price point. He said the impulse sales of a $19.95 video promoted at $15.95 has half the sale impact of what can be achieved at a price point of $9.99.

Make it timely.

"People go for interesting connections. Don't run a picnic theme in December. Don't get out of sync with the time of year and what is going on in people's minds," said Davidson of Selectrak said.

One cross-promotion Selectrak has done in supermarkets is to offer a free can of pop with any video rental. If the customer also fills out an entry form, he is automatically entered in a contest for a wicker picnic basket loaded with goodies, awarded weekly. The promotion runs for several weeks and "boosts rentals quite a bit," he said.

It has to make sense in the supermarket format.

The promotion also has to be feasible in a grocery store atmosphere, Ward of The Movie Exchange said.

As an example of a successful cross-promotion, Ward mentioned Gillette, which promoted some of its men's toiletry items in a rebate offer tied to purchase of a NASCAR video. The promotion was timed to kick off when the Winston Cup was starting, so consumers interested in a NASCAR video would be in the right mind-set, he said. "The Gillette people worked closely with the supermarkets to make sure their shipper unit, containing the items needed to get the rebate, were placed next to the shippers with the videos. The display was set up in the video rental area of the store or else in some other high-traffic location," he said.

Bob Hanft, co-owner and vice president of Video Management Co., Tacoma, Wash., said most of the business with special-interest videos is in sell-through, but some supermarkets offer them on a rental basis. "Some of the higher-end grocery stores offer cooking videos on a free rental basis. In terms of special-interest sell-through, supermarkets offer sports bloopers or exercise and fitness videos," he said.