Supermarkets are making a love connection with romance-themed videos for Valentine's Day.
To get consumers in the mood for video watching, retailers entice customers with reduced price promotions, cross-merchandising opportunities and decorative signage around the romantic drama and comedy sections. And with the burgeoning growth of DVD, sales and rentals of all video products will likely be greater than ever as Valentine's Day approaches.
B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb., capitalizes on the holiday by pricing catalog romance titles at 14 cents a copy for rental, said Bob Gettner, video buyer/coordinator.
"We'll put together a romance subsection in departments and put 14-cent sales on one entire VHS section like the drama section, and it's gone over fairly well," said Gettner. "People are in that romance mood, and we get an uptick in sales."
However, he added, "It's not as huge a holiday as it used to be. Since it's one-day deal, it's hard to get a big punch out of it. We have to create ambiance -- people are doing more things with their time and it's a challenge to create something new and exciting for the customer to come in."
Supermarkets have the opportunity to tie Valentine's Day video sections in with other departments like grocery, floral, bakery and greeting cards, said Toby Nelson, buyer, Dahl's Supermarkets, Des Moines, Iowa. "But it depends at the participation at store level."
Martin's Supermarkets ties video promotions with the floral department around February 14.
"We give our stores the freedom to merchandise and decorate and encourage tie-ins with candy," said Laura Fisher, video coordinator, Martin's Supermarkets, South Bend, Ind. "We usually take advantage of the studios' Valentine's Day shippers near the floral department, where traffic goes, and decorate [the area] with heart balloons. Normally around Valentine's Day, we get a boost in comedies and dramas, not action or horror."
Teresa Daniels, video buyer, McMakken's McVideo, Brookville, Ohio, tried boosting Valentine's Day video sales in recent years by allowing customers to reserve a particular new release along with a rose or a box of candy for a special holiday price, but the promotion ultimately was not successful. "It's more of a flower day than a video day," she said.
However, McMakken's recently changed the Valentine's Day video promotion to "three movies for three nights for $3.99" on all romance-themed catalog DVD and VHS. The display is featured at the front of the store and the special deal on love stories like "The Way We Were" and "When Harry Met Sally+" does "very well," Daniels said. "It takes care of all your Valentine's Day needs."
Industry sources said grocery stores in particular have an opportunity to spur romance-themed sales by enlivening romance catalog and new release titles and pricing Valentine's Day-appropriate sell-through titles aggressively.
"Stores with permanent in-line sections can capitalize on romance titles with romance theme signing," said Bill Bryant, vice president, sales, Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. "Separating romance titles with Valentine's Day signing creates demand for catalog romance titles that might otherwise go unnoticed. Impulse sales are the objective and catalog sell-through titles are priced to sell."
Movie studios give retailers an opportunity to create sales spark through specially priced promotions on their most popular catalog romance hits. Many are offering DVD as well as VHS at attractive pricing.
"Any theme works well in grocery and drug because they do set their stores to capitalize on holidays," said Justine Brody, vice president, marketing and promotions, New Line Home Entertainment, Los Angeles. "Well-priced romance titles move well in that environment." New Line's push on hit-driven titles like "The Wedding Singer," "Bed of Roses" and "The Bachelor," all priced at $14.98 on DVD and $9.94 on VHS, "are ideal for supermarkets to take advantage to appeal to a lot of people," Brody said.
In addition, grocery stores' other departments like floral, social expressions and packaged candies can capitalize on Valentine's Day, industry sources said.
Rodney Satterwhite, vice president, business retail development, Warner Home Video, agreed that the supermarket sector has opportunity to gain additional sales over mass channel through holidays like Valentine's Day, but supermarkets generally "have remained on the sidelines," he noted.
"Tie-ins with candy and cards would seem like a lock as would a movie to go with that special meal for a Valentine," Satterwhite said.
Warner Home Video recently created a new "Meals and Movies" campaign, which focuses on delivering profitable catalog along with grocer's meal solutions. "The initiative will kick in at the end of this year to get catalog product to grocers," explained Satterwhite. Retailers have the option of a stand-alone fixture with special slots that only allow customers to take out two DVDs at a time as a theft deterrent. The displays also have "pusher" technology to create the look of a filled display and "spin and lock technology" as another theft prevention feature.
"Both DVD and VHS offer a relatively low-cost way to turn an evening at home into something special, adding a little something extra like a movie to make a dinner into a date," noted Satterwhite."
The promotion, which highlights catalog titles like "A Walk to Remember," "You've Got Mail" and "The American President" is a year-long, day-in and day-out venture, he said.
"For Valentine's Day, "What Women Want," "Runaway Bride" and other female-skewed titles with hefty box offices tend to sell the best on DVD in the pre-Valentine's Day period," said Martin Blythe, vice president, publicity, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Hollywood, Calif.
Retailers can take advantage of the major box-office clout geared toward women in the romantic comedy "Sweet Home Alabama." It will be released on VHS and DVD from Buena Vista Home Entertainment on Feb. 4.
Paramount Home Entertainment is introducing the Peanuts classic "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown" on DVD on Jan. 7. "Peanuts DVDs speak to the supermarkets' core buying group -- moms with kids," Blythe added.
Also in time for the holiday, MGM Home Entertainment, Los Angeles, Calif., is presenting the new "Romance Collection" on DVD on Jan. 7. The collection includes catalog hits like "Much Ado About Nothing," "Making Mr. Right," "Mystery Date" and "Secret Admirer." All titles are available for $14.95. Additionally, MGM is bundling romance DVD two-packs for $19.99 each, including combinations like "Mannequin" and "Kansas," "Honeymoon in Vegas" and "Amos & Andrew," and "Breathless" and "Red Corner."