Supermarkets expect this summer to be a video sizzler. According to an SN poll, retailers said big hot A titles in rental and sell-through such as "The Fugitive," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Disney's made-for-video sequel to "Aladdin," "The Return of Jafar," should push video revenues to satisfactory levels and beyond some retailers' expectations this summer.
Coupled with the release of these hot properties, retailers said studios are giving major releases stronger promotional backing at retail.
"We expect business to be good this summer because of the combination of good, hot titles coming out and some studios becoming more promotion-oriented. More point-of-purchase materials are being offered and that creates more excitement," said Jim LeFebvre, nonfood director at Stanley Stores, Bay City, Texas.
In addition, retailers will capitalize on the draw produced from A titles with summer promotional pushes of their own, and some will use the opportunity to draw customers' attention to their game rental departments, which usually do strong business during summer months.
"Last summer we had a solid promotional plan and we will keep building off that this summer," said Jodi Tyler, video specialist for the corporate Pick 'n Save stores operated by Roundy's, Pewaukee, Wis.
"We will be paying a lot more attention to the video game side this summer rather than just video movies. We are getting very aggressive with the way we market video games. That is a growing category for us," said Clifford Feiock, video coordinator at Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis.
Although Roundy's does a "hefty rental business," Tyler looks to sell-through as becoming "stronger and stronger."
"People are getting used to the concept of buying videos. They are starting to collect videos, much like they would collect baseball cards," she said. According to Sandy French, video coordinator at Thrifty Food Stores, Burlington, Wash., 'Mrs. Doubtfire' will be the biggest video for rental.
"We don't do much sell-through of video, but we do sell previously viewed. We may offer a few videos sell-through, but just enough for convenience. There is too much competition for the sell-through sales from other retailers and formats, such as Safeway and Target. Some retailers are selling the videos basically at cost, which drags the gross profit down too much," she said.
Feiock of Nash Finch said "The Return of Jafar" will be a "fantastic" title this summer.
"It has a cross-promotion with Pillsbury products for a $5 rebate. 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and 'Jurassic Park,' if it comes through sell-through, should also be tremendous titles. We expect to see some records broken in the total amount of units we are moving. The same titles should be the leaders in rentals," he said.
Jitney Jungle Stores of America, Jackson, Miss., expects "The Fugitive," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Jurassic Park," when it becomes available, to be the hottest titles for both rental and sell-through, said Cindy Seale, general manager of video operations.
"As many people out there will probably purchase it as rent it because of the value," she said.
"Our biggest title right now will be 'The Return of Jafar" because so many people bought 'Aladdin,' and any child who has 'Aladdin' and sees this video will want it," said Tammy DeCloedt, video merchandising associate at Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind.
Here's what retailers had to say:
Jim LeFebvre nonfood director
Stanley Stores Bay City, Texas
Our video business should be as good or better this summer vs. last summer. There is an influx of children's movies, remakes of old television series and cartoons. Manufacturers' decision to sell some releases at lower cost has really spurred activity.
Cindy Seale general manager, video operations
Jitney Jungle Stores of America Jackson, Miss.
We started a Kids' Club in our video departments before I took over this position last year. That is a concept that has been slowly developing and we expect it to be a big part of this summer's merchandising plans. We give out a little card to children that gets punched when they rent a movie. They can win prizes or get a free movie rental after the card is filled with punches. The Kids' Club makes the children feel special and lets them know we appreciate their shopping with us. It is available to children up to age 12. We even have some 3-year-old children in the program.
Clifford Feiock video coordinator
Nash Finch Co. Minneapolis
We may reduce video rental space to enlarge the space for video games. We are trying to get Super Nintendo and Sega in all the stores. We will probably reduce the space for regular Nintendo.
Sandy French video coordinator
Thrifty Food Stores Burlington, Wash.
Our video business will probably be about the same as last summer's. We do a lot of promotions. Our managers meet once a quarter at a breakfast meeting with studio representatives and video suppliers to discuss upcoming promotions and releases.
We did a promotion for the movie "Bed and Breakfast," in which we held a drawing for a free stay at a local bed-and-breakfast inn.
The movie "Undercover Blues," starring Kathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid, just came out in mid-March. We plan to have a drawing for five winners of Ray-Ban sunglasses, which have a retail value of $89 each. Ray-Ban glasses were worn by the stars in the movie.
We had a coloring contest for children when the movie "Magic Voyage" was released on video. We are always doing some sort of promotion or contest, even if we don't include it in our ads.
Jodi Tyler video specialist
Roundy's Pick 'n Save division Pewaukee, Wis.
We are looking at continual increases in our summer video business. We may do about the same business as last summer, but the difference will be in how the department is divided up. Video games always prove to be pretty strong in summer when the young people are out of school and have extra free time. We would expect an increase in rentals of video games.
Summer is also a good season for movie rentals. The holiday period is the best season, but summer is right behind.
Last summer we had a promotion where the customer purchases a video and gets a free rental. That is good because it brings the customer back into the department.
We have also tried lowball pricing for the first couple of weeks when a video is released to compete with the mass merchandisers. We will have a sale price just like the mass merchandisers, such as, for one week it will be priced at $14.98. The next week we may increase the price about $1.
We are not really following the crowd but staying competitive and within the ball game. We do our promotions and advertising in-store. We cater to our customers, stay current on titles and keep the department fresh-looking.
We expect more point-of-purchase materials will be available from suppliers this summer. All of us need to be more creative in merchandising videos. You can't give away the house. It comes down to how you present this and the value you give to customers.
Tammy DeCloedt video merchandising associate
Martin's Super Markets South Bend, Ind.
We try different things. Normally we run a summer promotion where we lower the retail on our regular library titles. We will do coupons and have a trivia contest. We may do a drawing to attract more customers and increase the excitement in the department. Past prizes for the trivia contest have been a free video rental or a premium from one of the major studios, such as a jacket. We try to do a special promotion every month during the summer.