GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Retailers are expanding their commitment to the Dove Foundation's seal of approval program for "family-friendly" videos.
Furr's, Albuquerque, N.M., has rolled the program out from a 10-store test to all 62 video departments, and D&W Food Centers, Grand Rapids, Mich., recently added the program to its 11 stores with video, said Dick Rolfe, Dove's managing director.
Other supermarket companies carrying the Dove program include Meijer in Grand Rapids; Nash Finch, Minneapolis; Scott's Food Stores, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Southeast Foods, Monroe, La. The video departments of H-E-B Grocery Co., San Antonio, and its Video Central specialty stores will continue to carry the Dove program after the Video Central stores are sold to Hollywood Entertainment, Portland, Ore., said Rolfe. The deal may be completed this month, said industry sources.
Dove now has almost 600 stores in the program, about 70% of which are supermarkets, said Rolfe. While it is now focusing on developing better service levels and marketing support, Dove continues to present the program to large supermarket chains and specialty video retailers, including Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Some Blockbuster franchises already use the Dove seal, he said.
"We are talking to some of the major supermarket chains, and things are moving along well. But when you are dealing with large organizations with 100-plus locations, the wheels of progress turn slowly," said Rolfe.
"The satisfaction level in video stores and supermarkets is very high. Our renewal rates have been over 95%," said Rolfe, with most of those not renewing either going out of business or dropping video.
The Dove program was launched during the 1992 Video Software Dealers Association convention and grew rapidly, signing up over 160 stores by the end of that year, and the rest during 1993. While the program has drawn criticism from some in the entertainment field who claimed the organization has a hidden censorship agenda, many supermarket retailers see marketing and merchandising potential in it.
Video customers with children in their households are more likely to feel frustrated in attempting to find their first choice in rental titles, according to a recent study conducted by Video Store, a weekly trade newspaper.
Some retailers said the Dove program helps them to meet this strong consumer demand for more family video rental titles. But other retailers have said they just don't need the program, especially at $100 a store. Dove grants its seal of approval to movies it considers to be "family friendly."
"I'd love to place Dove in all the stores as I think it is a very valuable program," said Clifford Feiock, video coordinator at Nash Finch, Minneapolis. Nash Finch now has one store testing Dove.
The $100-per-store fee is an obstacle to a further rollout, he noted. "We have over 55 video rental locations and, at $100 per store, that is a pretty sizable amount. You've got to be sure you have a payoff," said Feiock.
But the foundation's increasing aggressiveness with promotional activity is making the program more attractive, he said. For example, one tie-in involves a free movie rental with a purchase from McDonald's.
Because of these, "we are considering Dove for the rest of our stores, but we haven't made a final decision yet," said Feiock. Improving promotions and service levels is more of a priority for Dove right now than adding retailers, said Rolfe. "This is a full-fledged marketing effort to assist retailers in increasing their bottom line with family titles. That is our primary objective with the retailers," said Rolfe.
Toward that end, the foundation has added personnel in the last three months and opened a West Coast office, he said. The new people are: · Dave Lukens, a former Meijer executive, who has become Dove's public relations director, a new position. · Scott Rolfe, a former Radio Shack store manager, who has taken over Lukens' former duties as director of corporate services. He is Dick Rolfe's son. · Rebekah Gibson, who formerly held a top-level administrative position with a national clothing chain, is in the new position of director of special projects and is based in Dove's new Pasadena, Calif., office.
"We are now concentrating on developing a more extensive array of services for our retailers," said Dick Rolfe.
"We want to raise awareness of the Dove seal and what it stands for. This will benefit everyone from a marketing standpoint," said Rolfe.
"Videos with the Dove sticker rent pretty well, and people go back and look for them," said Steve Gretzinger, video coordinator for Angeli's, Menominee, Wis. In one store there are 300 to 400 with the Dove Sticker, he said.
Angeli's has merchandised the Dove-stickered titles in with other titles in the various categories, but found that some customers prefer the Dove videos displayed together. "We started a separate section for about 60 tapes with the Dove sticker, and the customers look for them," Gretzinger said.
Most other retailers have done best with the Dove-stickered movies by mixing them in with the other tapes, said Rolfe. "That is what we are recommending and what our retailers have told us they are having the greatest success with," he said.
Customers frequently know the category or genre they want to rent when they come into a store and go to that section, he said. "There they can make a choice based on who is going to be watching it whether they want a Dove movie or not," said Rolfe.
Dove point-of-purchase materials help keep the stickered videos moving for Welton's in Gurnee, Ill. "We're using window signs to let our customers know that we're using the Dove stickers and that these videos are available," said Ray Underberg, video coordinator.