A vast array of nontheatrical video franchises continues to do steady business for many supermarkets. But many chains are limited by shelf space constraints to only the biggest franchises.
"These evergreen video titles sell more slowly, but they sell consistently where they are merchandised properly," said Bill Bryant, vice president, sales, grocery and drug, Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. "We have found that wherever there is an in-line section, those titles turn. They do not sell with the volume of feature sell-through, but they sell consistently enough that there is no need to rotate those titles in and out of that display," he said.
"The issue for supermarkets is retail floor space," said Michael Arkin, senior vice president, marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment, Hollywood, Calif. "Many of the chains are in the video business on an in-and-out basis. They come in when there is a big title. The challenge is to get those people to devote permanent fixturing to programming that is a permanent fixture in the kids' lives," he said.
"In our area, we have a very large demand for these," said Laura Fisher, video coordinator, Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind. "We make a lot more profit on these in the 20% to 30% range. Hit movie videos carry very low or no profit," she said.
"We are trying to increase the variety and quantity of that type of video," said Darlene Kiefer, services coordinator for Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio. "Not so much the Disney products, but others that we can make a little more profit on," she said.
"We have no plans to do anything with nontheatrical this spring due to their limited appeal with our customers," said Bill Glaseman, video specialist, Bashas', Chandler, Ariz. "But mainly, we lack the space to put these titles in, so we concentrate instead on the A titles. If we had more display space for video we'd try putting nontheatrical into our stores," he said.
"We've gotten in some nontheatrical product, but without that big advertising push behind it, a lot of it doesn't do all that well," said Bob Gettner, video buyer/coordinator, B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb. For example, he pointed to a title that came out for last Christmas, "The Nuttiest Nutcracker." "It was a real dud but would have done much better with theatrical awareness behind it. The studios just don't put enough advertising behind these releases and just hope the retailers will be able to sell them," he said.
Karen Welch, video buyer, Clyde Evans Markets, Lima, Ohio, also said these videos don't do as well as the theatrical releases. "There usually isn't any advertising and so people aren't thinking about these titles even when they are out. But these titles are more profitable than theatrical hit releases," she said.
"The market for strong franchises is very, very good. The market for weaker franchises is what is getting hurt," said Dan Capone, vice president of marketing and development, Family Entertainment, Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif. "We do not try to push any franchise that we don't feel has a strong consumer hook and great consumer appeal and demand."
But for strong franchises, like Warner's Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, and the Magic Schoolbus, as well those from other studios like Rugrats, Blues Clues and Barney, will always sell, he said. "People are becoming much more brand conscious and these are all brands. That's what I think works at retail and always works in supermarkets," Capone said.
"Television product tends to be more in the budget price range, which makes it great for an impulse purchase and easy to pick up at the checkout counter," said Suzanne White, executive director of marketing, Columbia TriStar Home Video, Culver City, Calif.
"There's a huge market for nontheatrical video product," said Peter Staddon, senior vice president, marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Beverly Hills, Calif. "Over 60 million people view Fox TV products each week, including such series as 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer,' 'The X-Files' and 'The Simpsons' and millions more view shows on the Fox Family Channel, building relationships between viewers and these series," he said
"By being beamed into homes each week, this relationship with the audience builds and is something that a theatrical release doesn't have. This results in huge fan followings and very dedicated fan bases that are eager to own their favorites on video," Staddon said.