A new slate of sell-through videos priced under $10 are hitting supermarket shelves in record numbers from nearly every major studio.
Though titles priced under $10 have been available in supermarkets for years, most have been previously viewed, minor, B-grade, horror, holiday-oriented and classic videos. But now studios are discounting more big-name, high-quality titles.
They include "Not Without My Daughter" and each of the five titles in the "Rocky" series, MGM/UA Home Entertainment; "Casualties of War" and "Absence of Malice" from Columbia TriStar Home Video, and "Three Men and a Little Lady" and "Good Morning Vietnam" from Buena Vista Home Video.
Many retailers report interest and enthusiasm about the new trend, saying the low price point will help move more video products in supermarkets.
"It's tough for us in the grocery business to sell any products that cost over $10 to people who already have a basket load of groceries that cost $40 or $50," said a video buyer at an Ohio chain.
The buyer contends that the lower price point will "open some doors" for him. Though he currently doesn't stock any of the titles, he plans to soon.
Price Mart, Muskogee, Okla., is placing a variety of $10 videos in the video department and also near the registers to catch impulse sales, said Anita Reed, corporate video supervisor.
"We'll have them in both places, which is something I haven't tried yet," she said. Reed is also selling the value-priced videos in two stores that don't have video departments. One drawback to the lower-priced titles is that they are not heavily promoted by many studios. As a result, many titles are going unnoticed.
Tammy De Cloedt, video merchandise associate at Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., had yet to see any information on any of the under-$10 videos.
However, she said the less expensive titles would sell well in her 13 stores because of the combination of price and titles.
Along with being underpromoted, space limitations are hampering the visibility of the lower-priced titles.
"At this point, I'm not going to carry them," said one buyer for a 70-store chain in Oklahoma. "There's some great titles out there right now. It's just a space issue." The buyer said he may reconsider it in the future.
But many retailers are willing to create the space because they said the videos are in high demand. Reed of Price Mart, for instance, said the lower-priced titles already have a customer base.
"This is going to be very interesting for me," she said. "I've been selling previously viewed titles for $9.99, and my customers love the price. I've told them about the new tapes, and they're excited. They want
to know when they're coming."
Reed contends that the price point will make a big difference in sales because it will help her compete.
"Before, I couldn't compete with Wal-Mart and other department stores," she said. Shirley Decker, video buyer at Goff Foods, Haslett, Mich., who is stocking a variety of the titles, agreed, saying the lower-priced videos attract a large audience.
"You get a lot of baby boomers who remember these movies," she said. "I see parents buying these videos for their kids because they remember that they liked them. I don't mind that these titles are older. In my departments, Elvis is still hot." Many see a bright future for sell-though videos. Jan Winn, director of general merchandise at Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., said her customers have come to count on them as a source for sell-through videos at competitive prices.
"Kids' videos do especially well because going to the theater with the entire family is an expensive process," she said. "Purchasing a video for $10 allows people to have a nice family night at home inexpensively.