The key to selling direct-to-video titles in supermarkets is strong, recognizable titles, such as sequels to hit theatrical movies, like the "American Tail" series, or television programming like "Rugrats."
l to another movie has really tough going. A lot of consumers are skeptical about picking these up to buy or rent if they don't know anything about them. On the other hand, 'Scooby Doo' does well because of the name recognition and 'Sailor Moon' does well perhaps because of the interest in Japanimation," he said.
"A few direct-to-video titles have done well but not a lot," said Darlene Kiefer, services coordinator for Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio. "Direct-to-video has to be the right kind of title, carry a recognizable name and be promoted. People have to know something about it. You can't just take anything and put it out there," she said.
"Wherever there is a strong theatrical tie-in, such as 'Buzz Lightyear' and 'Toy Story 2' for example, direct-to-video titles should sell extremely well in supermarkets," said Bill Bryant, vice president of sales, grocery and drug for Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. "The lesser-known properties will have a more difficult time at retail, but how well a franchise is accepted by the consumer is really title-specific," he said.
"The studios are coming out with some pretty good children's movies," said Karen Welch, video buyer for Clyde Evans Markets, Lima, Ohio. "But we order one or two copies for rental only. I don't order a lot for sell-through because overall demand has been low," she said.
"We have not been presented with any that would cause me to put them in for sell-through," said Bill Glaseman, video specialist at Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz. "Direct-to-video has not been growing because of the lack of strength of the titles. However, among the direct-to-video titles we would put in as rentals are 'Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers,' 'American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island,' 'An Extremely Goofy Movie,' 'Arthur's Quest' and 'Sailor Moon R: The Movie,"' he said.
"We have had some great success with direct-to-video and we have three major titles planned for the third and fourth quarter of 2000," said Dan Capone, vice president of marketing and development at Family Entertainment, Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif. The Olsen Twins videos, with the soon-to-be-released "Switching Goals," have been particularly strong. "The Olsen Twins franchise gets stronger and stronger every year," he said.
"We feel direct-to-video titles have a strong collectible appeal that matches the growing trend in building home video libraries, particularly among families with young children," said Dick Longwell, senior vice president of sales at Universal Music & Video Distribution, Universal City, Calif. "Our extensive offering of direct-to-video titles targeting family viewers reflects this," he said.
The higher-profile direct-to-video titles mean big business. For example, Burbank, Calif.-based Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Dennis Maguire, senior vice president for sales, said purchase intent for "An Extremely Goofy Movie," which streets Leap Day, Feb. 29, is in the 3 million- to 4 million-unit range. The title kicks off the Disney Video Premieres line, which will include "Little Mermaid 2" in September, "which I think is going to be one of the best-selling titles of the year," said Maguire.
Promotional tie-ins for "Goofy" include a $4 rebate from Parkay margarine, a McDonald's Happy Meal program and trailering on "Tarzan." "With the success of 'Tarzan,' millions of children are going to find out about the 'Extremely Goofy Movie' coming to the market in the next three weeks, which will spike demand when the title is released at the end of the month," Maguire said.