The traditional in-and-out shippers of Christmas videos will face tougher competition for space this holiday season. Crowding the field in the fourth quarter are a wealth of titles with child-appeal. Kid-friendly titles such as "Cinderella," "The Santa Clause," "Casper," "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," "A Goofy Movie" and "Batman Forever" are expected to create a space crunch that will limit how many lower-price seasonal videos supermarkets can carry. Such traditional titles include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Retailers polled by SN said they will address this issue in different ways. Some may cut back on the variety of the traditional in-and-out holiday videos, while others may offer a different mix from previous years. "We aren't ordering a lot of product that is just being rereleased. We put them in for the last couple of years and most people have them by now," said Brenda Vanover, video coordinator and buyer at K-VA-T Food Stores, Grundy, Va., a chain of more than 60 stores. "We will feature different products, such as 'Casper' and 'Batman Forever,' instead of just 'Rudolph.' I plan to concentrate on 'Casper,' 'Batman Forever,' 'A Goofy Movie,' 'Cinderella,' 'Apollo 13' and 'The Santa Clause,' as opposed to the traditional titles for children. We will have the same degree of variety as last year, but different items," she said. K-VA-T usually has the same product mix each Christmas, so Vanover predicts the new assortment should go over well with consumers. "This year, with something different, we should do very good," Vanover said. Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio, brought in shippers of holiday-related videos last year. This year, however, it plans to bring in a different mix at a lower price point to better compete with mass merchandisers, according to Sharon Stagner, merchandising coordinator. "Generally, we are pretty successful with sell-through on holiday merchandise. Both audio and video are represented. We try to change the theme each year, so we don't have the same product every year," Stagner said. "Last year we offered products from two different suppliers, but this year we have cut back to one supplier." Seaway will have traditional titles like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," in part because it didn't offer these titles last year, she said.
Seaway is using one supplier this year because it wants a lower price point on its holiday videos, Stagner said. The selection will retail at below $10. Last year the retailer sold holiday videos in-and-out for $12 to $14, she said. Though many retailers predict good success with the classic Christmas tapes, they said the new high-profile releases will create competition.
"We always carry the Christmas classic tapes, but this year, with 'Cinderella,' 'The Santa Clause,' 'Casper' and 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,' there will be a lot of videos for sale, so there will probably be more of a space crunch," said Karen Welch, video manager at Clyde Evans Markets, Lima, Ohio. Disney titles are among the best-selling videos at Steele's Markets, Fort Collins, Colo., said Russ Kates, co-owner and partner. "We will have a good selection of recent releases and will try for as many Walt Disney releases as we can get," he said.
The video director for a 20-store retailer said he will probably offer sell-through miscellaneous family and children's videos next to the major releases for the holiday selling period. "We will stock the rental department with Christmas titles and sell them off as previously viewed after the holidays. Otherwise, when the season is over, those rentals would just sit on the shelf," he said. Kates of Steele's Markets also rents holiday movies and then sells them after the holidays as previously viewed. "We may buy an extra shipper of new releases and rent them out. A month later we can sell them for $9.95 as previously viewed. For a video that costs $16, if you can rent it 10 to 15 times during the month for $3 per rental, and then sell it as previously viewed for $9.95, you'll make more money on it than selling it through," Kates said. Steele's planned to increase its orders this Christmas season due to the array of popular titles that are on the market this season.
"We may have to order a little heavier this year for Christmas just to be on the safe side. We may not have had enough last year of certain titles that were released around Christmas, and we sold out too early," said the video director of the 20-store chain. Angeli Foods Co., Iron River, Mich., plans to offer a collection of Christmas videos in a 48-count shipper, including titles such as "The Year Without Santa Claus," "Christmas Vacation," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Frosty the Snowman," said Steve Gretzinger, video coordinator. "We will sell the Christmas videos for about $1 to $1.50 over cost. In the past, stocking-stuffer videos had to be under $10. But we have found that even under $13 they will sell," he said. This year Angeli plans to do more in-store advertising of its holiday videos, Gretzinger said. For the holidays, the company plans to run a coupon sheet that features $1 savings.
Angeli and several other retailers stressed the importance of allocating multiple locations within the supermarket to display in-and-out shippers of Christmas videos. "The idea is to get in several locations, instead of only one or two areas," Gretzinger said. "We usually have the shippers in three different places, wherever we can squeeze them. We tie in with cereal, and we have a shipper near the front door."
To increase visibility of its video selection, K-VA-T has worked to cross-promote video more often, Vanover said. The chain has put more videos out on the sales floor, rather than only in the video department.
"You have to keep the video display out in the store filled and cross-promote with other types of items," Vanover said. " " 'Cinderella' can be cross-promoted with General Mills. We still have quite a bit of 'The Lion King' videos left for Christmas, and they can be cross-promoted with Pillsbury. Whatever company has a rebate with the video gets cross-promoted. We would put it on an endcap in the front of the store." Clyde Evans will put some video shippers around the video department and will set one at about every other checkout at the front end, Welch said. "We want them in high-traffic areas. Shippers are always eye-catching," she said. The video director of the 20-store chain said he will place video shippers in and around the video rental departments and near the front end. The chain is currently running a tie-in promotion with the "Cinderella" video and a Cinderella doll, which will probably continue through Christmas. Toys associated with the "Pocahontas" movie and a variety of toys related to "Casper" are also being promoted on an endcap near the toy section, he said. Because Seaway Food Town cut back to one supplier, it will have only about half the number of shippers it had last year. And due to shrink, the entire selection will be merchandised in the video area.
"Last year we had some shippers out on the floor [outside the video department], but shrink became a problem," Stagner said. "This year we have a new corporate policy that all shippers of videos must be in the video area." But Stagner said the chain's advertising will be the same as last year. "We will advertise in our circular and will have in-store promotions," she said.
Along with circular and in-store advertising, the key to selling video is having a large display, said Kates of Steele's Markets. "You have to get people excited, so you need a nice presentation. People like to pick and choose," Kates said. "We find that once the display becomes depleted, sales slack off until it is restocked." Steele's usually has a designated area where it displays videos, but sometimes it will put an extra shipper near the checkstands for impulse sales, according to Kates.
Steele's has promoted children's videos in a continuity program that features direct-to-video animated titles retailing for about $3.99, Kates said.
"For example, we have a 'Pocahontas' video that is not the Disney version and sells for $4.95. If the kid can't have the real one, he or she might be happy with this. This is a six-week promotion. Each week we put a $2-off coupon in our ad for a certain tape in the collection. The others can be purchased at the regular price. There are probably six different titles," Kates said. The abundance of titles available in video is not expected to affect the in-and-out promotion of holiday audio tapes, retailers said. Angeli brings in one or two shippers of holiday music every year on a guaranteed sale basis, Gretzinger said. Because there had been a problem with theft of the audio tapes in the supermarket, they are only displayed in the video area, he said. "We will carry the usual mix of audio tapes or holiday cassettes," Stagner of Seaway Food Town said.