Candy And A Movie Prove A Winning Business Proposition

Online movie downloads and Internet-based rental programs like Netflix have been putting the squeeze on the bricks-and-mortar video rental business for the past several years. So when the Glenview, Ill.-based Family Video chain added candy to its core movie rental business a couple of years ago, the additional revenue stream couldn’t have come at a better time.
“In this business we need to find ways to get that incremental revenue, and certainly the candy program we’ve put into place has helped us in that respect,” says Bill Hendricks, confections buyer for the privately owned chain of 453 video stores. “We’re doing very well,” adds Hendricks, who helped launch the candy initiative.
The candy set at Family Video outlets is presented in the checkout area on a four-sided display fixture that shows off a colorful assortment of up to 100 SKUs dominated by theater-box products and king-size singles. It also includes a limited number of peg bags, and the top shelf offers space for countertop boxes of kids’ novelty items such as Topps Push Pops or Too Tarts Spray Candies.  
Video store candy purchases are very much impulse buys, says Hendricks. So much so, in fact, that the chain doesn’t even includes prices on the candy display fixture. “I have never believed that price is the determining factor [in the purchase decision],” he notes. “The customer will walk up with their movies, and they’ll think of the movie experience that they’d like to have as they sit on their couch and watch the movie.”
Merchandising candy effectively isn’t rocket science, Hendricks points out. “The stores that have the plan-o-gram in place and keep it in stock are the ones that do well,” he says. He adds that “the stores that train their clerks in suggestive selling do much better than the others.”
Bundled up
Movie/popcorn/candy bundles also play a role in stimulating sales, so Hendricks is on a continual quest for vendor partners willing to fund special promotions. “We try to have something going on at all times,” he notes.
Hendricks plan-o-grams the Family Video candy assortment annually and also sets an in-and-out item calendar for the year. In a bid to keep the assortment fresh and exciting, he’ll occasionally add a particularly fun or innovative item as an in-and-out. This year, for example, a three-flavor assortment of Pop Rocks was such a strong performer that Hendricks brought in a couple of additional Pop Rocks SKUs as in-and-outs.
Like many alternate channel candy retailers, Family Video has begun adding some salty snacks adjacent to the candy set. “We’ve got some nut products that are doing OK,” says Hendricks, “and we’re looking at more of a healthy fruit snack item.”