UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- More supermarkets are looking for entertainment-oriented promotions that will differentiate them from their competitors and from other classes of trade, said speakers at the EPM Entertainment Marketing Conference.
They agreed the most effective marketing programs for entertainment properties like home videos are account-specific or localized promotions.
"It used to be said that all politics is local," said Neil Kimberley, brand manager at Diet Rite/Nehi, RC Cola, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Now it is getting to the point with us where all marketing is local. This is a trend that is going to increasingly dominate food stores in the next five to six years," he said at the conference, held here late last year.
Account-specific promotions essentially add another sponsor -- the retailer -- to the marketing mix, he said. Retailers tend to take a more passive role with big national cross promotions, but become more actively involved when they have an exclusive.
"Try to understand the reality of retailing today," said Kimberley. "We try to help supermarkets and mass merchandisers as much as we can. They have intense competition."
He cited an example of one Midwest market where Wal-Mart was coming in with nine new stores. The existing retailers in that area were looking for something to promote.
"They need programs to drive traffic, get them the exposure and give them the presence to really set them apart from other retailers," Kimberley noted.
Account-specific or localized promotions also serve to motivate intermediate suppliers or distributors, he said. "In my case, I have a system of 150 different bottlers around the United States. I need promotions that will excite them on a seasonal basis so they will go out and push my brands."
Such promotions are in demand for video, but are not as easy to develop as those for other entertainment forms, such as movie theaters and television, noted Barbara Watts, president of Barbara Watts & Associates, Canoga Park, Calif.
"Video is perhaps the most difficult to deal with on a regional basis," she said. "Typically, video is distributed through large distributors. It's very difficult for the video companies to put [regional] signage on their displays because they have very little control over how that gets distributed into the marketplace. It's very difficult for them to position it into key markets and not into others."
However, it's a different story when there are direct relationships between the video company and large retailers. Such ties are becoming more common. "In those circumstances, you can develop specific account overlays, and the retailers are quite enthusiastic about those kinds of relationships," said Watts. "They are very valuable to them. Account-specific overlays, particularly in grocery and mass merchant accounts, are extremely desirable."
Sue Bristol, director of strategic marketing at Lyric Studios (formerly the Lyons Group), Richardson, Texas, cited an example of a successful account-specific cross promotion of Barney with Toys 'R' Us that was also highly localized. In a program that is moving from market to market to coincide with a Barney concert tour, each store is giving away a four-pack of tickets provided by the studio.
"The program is being supported with radio advertising, which drives business into Toys 'R' Us, as well as raises awareness of our tour and the Barney products at Toys 'R' Us," said Bristol. "Just a little over a month into the relationship, all three partners are delighted with the success."
Lyric hopes to extend more promotional efforts into the supermarket class of trade, Bristol told SN after her presentation. "We are pretty well covered in mass, so grocery will be one of our big growth areas. Although we have a lot of exposure there already, there is room for more," she said.
"The grocery channel is looking for more opportunities and ways to do things differently, both for video rental and for sell-through," Bristol added. The company is looking for cross-promotional partners among food manufacturers for its lines of Barney and Wishbone videos, and other licensed products.