BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- FoxVideo sell-through products will be a growing presence in supermarkets in 1997, said Bob DeLellis, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment here.
"Fox has a number of plans and new concepts that are definitely friendly to supermarkets and the supermarket environment," he told SN in an exclusive interview. Aside from the first-ever direct use by a major studio of a freestanding insert Feb. 9, DeLellis would not specify these future projects. But the studio hopes to gain a bigger share of the space that chains are giving to permanent sell-through sections, as well as the big hit in-and-out displays for titles like "Independence Day."
"Everybody knows where the dairy is, where the meat is and where produce is. You are seeing more and more dedicated space, and video sell-through is becoming an ultimate destination in the store," said DeLellis.
In-and-out displays of videos will continue. "But I think you will see that primarily for the megahits," he said. Lesser hits, ongoing programs of fast-turning catalog titles and TV programming will be spotlighted in the permanent sections, he said. This provides a focus for stores to use point-of-purchase merchandising materials, which are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and attention-getting, especially in chains that restrict the use of such displays. "It alleviates many of the problems with signage in stores with the clean floor concept because you can post the signage around the dedicated area," he said.
It also is a place to put a television monitor, a proven sales tool with video. Monitors are difficult to deploy in temporary display areas, unless they are on a rolling cart, said DeLellis. "But if they have a dedicated area, it is easily done," he said.
In-store showings of videos are potentially even more effective in the supermarket environment, where a wide range of shoppers will pass by them, than in mass merchants, where they are typically restricted to the electronics department. "It's appropriate for grocery. But we've seen a lot of success in chains without monitors," he said.
One of the keys to an ongoing sell-through program in supermarkets is close control of the selection. "They've got the female customers, they've got the multiple visits. They just have to keep changing their inventories," said DeLellis.
"The advantage of people being in there two or three times a week becomes a disadvantage in that product becomes stale quickly. You can't keep the same product on those shelves," he said.
FoxVideo has consolidated its catalog products into lines like its Twentieth Century Fox Selections at a $9.98 suggested retail price, and its Premiere Collection and Family Features priced at $14.98. The Premiere Collection includes titles like "Mrs. Doubtfire," "True Lies" and "Speed," while the Family Features line includes "The Sound of Music," "The Pagemaster" and Shirley Temple movies.
"We are uniquely qualified as a studio that has a lot of good products across key genres and price points," said Brad Kirk, senior vice president of marketing. But to take full advantage of these products and the newly released titles, supermarket video executives need to develop their knowledge of the entertainment industry, he said. "You can't buy them like beans and corn flakes. The buyers need to know the industry to be able to pick the hits."
It's not difficult, he added. "It just requires somebody having enough time to follow the box office and the track record of the studios. Selection is everything -- having the right titles at the right time in the right place at the right price," he said.
The buyer needs to pay attention to the top 100 releases of the year, "and be ready for them when they go sell-through," said Kirk.
FoxVideo also has developed special racks to highlight its products. "In places where they are being used, our customers are extremely pleased and the productivity has gone up a lot. They work," he said.
"Give us a cube. Give us the space and we will double or triple your productivity on that space. But it takes coordination and commitment on the customer's side and some systems investment on our side. So it has got to be something that people are going at with the long-term view of optimizing their category sales," said Kirk.
"We are very committed to being the best in the business in terms of in-store fixturing and merchandising capabilities. That is an important growth area for us," he said. FoxVideo also has a strong commitment to the "pull" side of the business, said Kirk. That is, pulling products through the stores with advertising and marketing as opposed to pushing high inventory levels in.
"We pay a lot of attention to awareness and trial predisposition. We work our media plans very heavily to get to the target audience of a title to make sure that we really do pull people into the stores," he said.