As demonstrated by fourth-quarter video sell-through sales, splashy and provocative point-of-purchase displays do move units.
Retailers surveyed by SN said that the display merchandisers accompanying "Toy Story," "Twister," "Independence Day" and "The Nutty Professor" are among this year's favorites for color, attractiveness and eye-catching appeal.
Compared to the past, studios have made real progress in providing displays that are more creative while increasing the quantity and level of merchandising service, according to most retailers. Many said the display does make a difference, and that they will buy more products if they come with an attractive display.
"We're getting more stuff these days," said John Darrow, owner of Darrow's Country Market, Baraboo, Wis. "It seemed that video stores used to get more displays than grocery stores, but now it seems we're getting more."
"There's been lots of progress," said Gary Schloss, vice president of general merchandise at Carr Gottstein Foods, Anchorage, Alaska. "The look of the displays, the graphics and the colors have more eye-catching appeal."
Schloss and others have noticed a move away from cardboard standees and an increase in shippers. "Recently, we've been getting more than the old standard pop-up cardboard. On many, you see the graphic or photo of the actual character and some kind of movable part," he said.
Shirley Decker, video buyer at Goff Food Stores, Haslett, Mich., also sees more colors in the displays.
"The studios have made progress in the way they present the displays," she said. "They're more colorful and not as generic anymore. Videos have to jump out at you at point-of-sale. The displays make this happen." "The studios are doing a much better job than in the past," said Rick Ang, video buyer for Bel Air Markets, Sacramento, Calif. "There's plenty of POP material available, and the studios are quite helpful in getting it to me. At the last minute, I had to appeal to Columbia and MCA for additional displays for Christmas orders, and they came through right away. Within a few days, I had everything I needed."
Jeff Manning, vice president of general merchandise at Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz., who buys for 70 stores, thinks the studios are doing a good job providing displays that create awareness and in general help sell tapes.
"The Nutty Professor" displays impressed Rick Ang the most. "It was unique in how the tapes were displayed inside the stomach of the big Eddie Murphy character," he said. "I also liked the one where he was standing on all the smashed boxes. It was a real eye-catcher."
Ang said he likes humor and action in a display. "Toy Story" was most often named as a favorite because of its action and "cuteness."
" 'Toy Story,' which was really bright and flashy, with batteries and lights, was great," said Ang, "but it's so difficult to put together we only managed to get up a few of them."
"Anything that interacts is pretty cool. If it twists, moves, runs, hops or screams, I like it," said Kevin Harmon, video coordinator at Kroger's Atlanta KMA, although he couldn't recall any displays that screamed. He liked "Twister" and "Toy Story" and didn't find them too difficult to set up.
Darrow had a few problems with "Toy Story." "Some displays are complicated. Some take longer to set up than I'd like. 'Toy Story' was quite complicated. No one likes to read directions, and when we start putting them together in the wrong way and have to take them apart to redo them, it weakens them."
Ang would like to see sturdier displays. "There's a lot of traffic in a grocery store, and those displays take a lot of abuse," he said.
Ang was particularly impressed with the construction and quality of the "Independence Day" display, which he said was made from half-inch-thick cardboard.
"Unfortunately," he added, "the display itself was hideous and it was hard to put together. The trays constantly fell on the floor. But it was really sturdy if you used some staples and duct tape to put it together."
Karen Webster, who buys videos for Norfolk, Va.-based Farm Fresh, couldn't really say which displays she thought best, but she did recall that she liked "Twister," with its upside-down truck.
Goff's Decker sees a big difference in sales when she sets up a display, but she's very conscious of space.
"The thing I like most about some displays is their trimness, when they're small enough to get down the center aisle or on a wing display without taking up the whole end," she noted. "These smaller displays, the ones with three tapes across instead of four, five or six, are good for grocery stores. You can still get around them with a cart."
"A big display influences me to push the products more," said Ang. "I suppose it increases my buying, especially if I decide to go with a promotion on it. And if it's a big display, I'll display it more prominently."
Darrow says he'll buy more product if it has a great display.
"We do a lot with presentation, especially if a video is tied in with a food, like 'Toy Story' was with General Mills. We have two televisions with videocassette players set up in the store, and we play the video when it first comes in. People actually stop to watch.
"Being a supermarket," he added, "we display the tie-in food products right next to the videos. It helps sell more of both. And big displays influence people's buying."
Goff's Decker sees a big difference in sales when there's a display, and consequently displays make a difference in how much she buys. She loved the display for "Babe." "It was wonderful. The animals were so clear and the colors so beautiful. Adults were attracted to it as much as kids." She also mentioned "The Land Before Time" and "Toy Story." " 'Toy Story' was pretty ingenious," she said.