LAS VEGAS -- Cross-promotions are becoming an integral part of the video category in supermarkets. Chains are working more aggressively with the tie-in opportunities provided by the major studios with other products sold in the stores. But lead time and the communication of program information remain obstacles to the success of such promotions. In SN's third-annual video roundtable, held here last spring, retailers, video distributors and studio executives discussed the current state of video cross-promotions and how to make them better. "We are looking at as many cross-promotion tie-ins as we can that might boost the bottom line with sell-through titles that are coming out," said Clifford Feiock, video coordinator at Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis. "When you look at some of the groundbreaking promotions that are coming along, they provide some great opportunities for the supermarket," said Andrew Kairey, senior vice president of sales and marketing at MCA/Universal Home Video, Universal City, Calif. Other participants in the video roundtable were: Ron Eisenberg, president of ETD Entertainment Merchandising, Houston; Sandy French, video coordinator at Thrifty Food Stores, Burlington, Wash.; Bill Glaseman, video specialist at Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz.; Bernard Herman, president of Star Video Entertainment, Jersey City, N.J.; David Ingram, president of Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn.; Steve Jones, vice president of corporate marketing at Video Home Theater, Des Moines, Iowa; Dennis Maguire, vice president of sales at Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., and Craig Van Gorp, vice president of sell-through sales at Turner Home Entertainment, Atlanta. Following are excerpts from the roundtable:
SN: What do you think about video cross-promotions?
FEIOCK: We are looking at as many cross-promotion tie-ins as we can that might boost the bottom line with the sell-through titles that are coming out. SN: Our research has found that supermarkets cross-promote an average of about four to five hit titles a year with related merchandise. What do you think of that number? FEIOCK: I think that it's pretty accurate. But with some of the tie-ins that we've seen so far, I would hope that there will be a much greater number in 1995. Pillsbury, for one, is doing an excellent job in our stores promoting not only their products, but the sale of the videos that they're tied with. I've got Pillsbury reps calling me and they're contacting stores selling videos for me. So I think that's just wonderful. If some of these other companies can learn from that and get their sales force active in promoting video, it's going to be a big plus for everybody. VAN GORP: A question I have is in regard to our title "Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns," which we did extremely well with, and the concept of continuity programs in grocery stores. We have some people that have done continuity programs with supermarkets, but are the people here interested in doing those? The "Baseball" series was ideal for this and we also had a cross-promotional partner in Little Debbie snack cakes. I'd like to get some feedback from the retailers. FEIOCK: For us, the big problem again is lead time. There's not enough time built in to do continuities. We have changed our emphasis on these. We're looking at 12 monthly promotions where the continuity would be based on having a specific title for a week at a time, or something like that. So it's really hard for us to tailor that type of program. Our continuities are set now through and into 1996. KAIREY: Does that continuity program involve third-party promotion? FEIOCK: Yes, it does. So it's really tough to get that coordinated. Another example on the problem of lead time was on "Timmy the Tooth." We did do sell-through in our stores on that title because we got no information literally until prebook date. We had no information to send out to our stores, no ad slicks, no pricing information -- even the distributors didn't know anything about it, as far as I could tell. So that was a title we missed completely. FRENCH: A lot of times I don't get the information until it's too late. INGRAM: We had a lot of information on "Timmy the Tooth." FEIOCK: I wasn't able to get any. FRENCH: I would like to see a little bit more organization with the cross-merchandising, even getting the information early enough so I can organize it. INGRAM: Going back to continuity programs, we've had some customers that have done them. One of the reasons they did them -- and they were very popular -- is at the time, you didn't have as many sell-through titles coming out that kept the excitement of video going week after week after week. That environment lent itself more toward continuities. Now everybody's trying to put everything out that they can on sell-through. There are so many more opportunities. As Sandy mentioned, there's a time constraint. That may be why you haven't seen "Baseball" done the way "Civil War" was. SN: What other opportunities are there in video cross promotions? KAIREY: There's a tremendous opportunity in auxiliary markets in the supermarket environment for the major titles, both during their theatrical release and during their second life on video. That opportunity is the merchandising and licensing opportunities that exist with these products. Some distributors capitalize on these programs more than others. For example, for the release of "Casper," there's a tremendous amount of merchandising and licensing happening on the property. That is a great opportunity for supermarkets to take family-oriented product and merchandising it for additional revenue. You're seeing more and more supermarkets beginning to step into this arena. It's a pretty significant part of the business. SN: What do the retailers here think? GLASEMAN: We put in licensed products for titles like "The Lion King" and "Jurassic Park," but I really can't tell you what the numbers are because it's handled by another department. VAN GORP: I think you'll see a lot more coordination. We're doing it now when we release big titles. What it gets down to is communication between the studio and the community out there as far as what has been put together. Licensed products are something that can make a retail department more exciting. They allow you to cross-promote with other titles and to offer these products as part of a presell campaign with a sell-through offer, or with a rental.