ENCINO, Calif. -- Supermarkets will continue to be embraced by the Video Software Dealers Association, but only to the extent that they actively participate, said the trade group's new president, Jeffrey P. Eves. "My goal and objective is to work with all of the members to build and manage an association that is responsive to all of their interests," said Eves in an exclusive preshow interview with SN. "If supermarkets are desirous of having a voice in VSDA that is strong, loud and responsive to their interests, then they have an obligation to get involved and make it their association, just as it is others'," Eves said. Eves, who is VSDA's top staff executive, joined the association on May 1 from Fort Howard Corp., Green Bay, Wis., where he was vice president of corporate and public affairs. He also has served on the White House staffs of the Nixon and Ford administrations. VSDA's convention, which takes place July 24 to 27 in Las Vegas, is the biggest entertainment exhibition of any kind. The show is being attended by many supermarket video executives representing large chains. Long dominated by specialty video store retailers, VSDA has been trying to broaden its membership base in the past two and a half years. The 13-year-old trade group has about 3,000 member companies, representing 25,000 retail locations, as well as manufacturers, distributors and related businesses. It is unclear how many are supermarkets because they sign up under various corporate names. While supermarkets' share of the video market will grow to 18% in 1994, according to SN's State of the Industry Report on Supermarket Video, now only one member of VSDA's board is from a supermarket chain. That is Mark Fisher, video sales-operations manager at Stop & Shop, Boston. Three other executives representing supermarket interests have served on the VSDA board in the past two years, but they have stepped down for various reasons. "Supermarkets may represent in the neighborhood of 18% of the market, but they don't make up anything close to 18% in terms of the total membership of VSDA. VSDA has got to simultaneously balance representing its membership in as democratic a fashion as it possibly can while it represents the industry," said Eves. "There are growing promotional activities within supermarkets relating to the video rental business and also to the other objectives of the supermarkets and the other kinds of products that they sell," he said. "It is our obligation to represent the whole industry and all of our members. It would be folly for the VSDA not to think seriously of the best way that it can work with supermarkets because they do represent a very significant part of the business," he said. With some chains using video rental as a low-price traffic builder and others making a full-scale commitment to a broad offering of entertainment software products, supermarkets' place in the video business is unclear, he said. "Supermarkets are using the video business in different ways. The future role of the supermarkets has to be defined to a large degree by the supermarkets themselves," said Eves. As to supermarkets' role in VSDA, he said, "we need more dialogue. We all have work to do in terms of defining the appropriate role for them to play." Eves has meetings planned with supermarket video people after the convention, he said. More supermarket-specific programming at the convention could result from these discussions and from a survey VSDA will conduct at the show, he said. "If we hear from the supermarket representatives that they would find that valuable, then we'll do it. The real bottom line here is we are always going to be responsive to the needs of our members," said Eves. New this year at the show will be a strong emphasis on video games and emerging technologies, said Eves. "For the very first time, we will have a major presence by Sega and Nintendo. We also have scheduled three major sessions that will deal with new technologies and video games. That is something we haven't done before," he said. After nine years in Las Vegas, the VSDA show will move to Dallas next year in May. Eves said the change is being made because:
· VSDA needs to plan its show dates further in advance.
· Suppliers have asked that the convention dates be moved up to allow more lead time before the fourth quarter.