In the dog days of summer, as shoppers pour into store aisles searching for back-to-school supplies, home video sales can increase if product is properly merchandised, retailers and suppliers told SN.
Although few, if any, titles are specifically geared toward this crowd, key releases are timed to be in stores when shoppers arrive to purchase notebooks, pencils and other classroom accouterments, they said. The back-to-school period also coincides with outdoor temperatures becoming so warm in many parts of the country that they drive consumers back indoors.
"Back to school is a good time for catalog titles," said Denis Oldani, director of video, Schnuck Markets, St. Louis. "It's hot outside, and people are looking for indoor activities."
The baby-sitting aspect of home video also comes into play when shoppers are thinking about back to school, said Carl Day, owner, Day's Market Place, Heber City, Utah. "The older kids go back to school, and mom has to deal with the younger kids. Whether they are new-release titles or older titles being reintroduced on DVD, it gives the kids something new to occupy their time, while providing mom with a little more free time without the kids distracting her," he said.
At K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va., there's no advantage to video during back to school. "Back to school hurts video sales," said Brenda Vanover, director of video operations.
The studios see the store traffic during back to school and do their best to take advantage of it, executives said.
"The biggest benefit is just the store traffic," said Rodney Saterwhite, vice president, retail business development, Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif. "We don't do a lot to drive traffic. We just take advantage of the impulse sales, which in this category is always the key. The way you do that is to have titles that appeal to the younger demographic, as well as having some pricing that appeals to the parents."
When Kelly Sooter, head of domestic home entertainment, DreamWorks Home Entertainment, Glendale, Calif., was with another studio, that company tried different approaches to taking advantage of back to school. "But my experience was that the consumer's mind-set at back to school is on buying clothes and supplies." To attract that shopper, "you have to have a good movie people want to own," she said.
Unlike Easter and Christmas, video and the back-to-school shopping occasion are not a natural fit, said Sooter. "It's more a matter of taking advantage of the traffic in the store. It is about being in the right place at the right time."
"Increased store traffic factors greatly in our decision to release product during the back-to-school time period," said Tracey Garvin, vice president, marketing, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Culver City, Calif. "Increased traffic factors into increased sales."
"Because our audience is already in-store, it's a great window for us," said Lori MacPherson, vice president, live-action marketing, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Burbank, Calif. "For Example, last year's release of 'The Rookie' was a great performer in that period."
The months of August and September are not generally key video-selling months, nor is there a correlation with kids going back to school and increased video purchases, said Jim Foster, senior vice president of sales, mass merchandisers and communications, Universal Music and Video Distribution, Universal City, Calif.
Of more importance, he said, "is the opportunity for traditional retailers to capitalize on the back-to-school consumers -- moms and kids -- who will be in stores purchasing back-to-school supplies. Tying in relevant catalog and new-release titles to consumer products and product displays presents an opportunity to capture incremental purchases. This allows the retailer to increase the overall basket ring during the back-to-school shopping trip," Foster said.