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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Studios Should 'Make Good' and Junk the High Goals That Hog-Tie Indie Retailers

16 Apr, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I'm getting lots of comments about goals, the key element in the copy-depth programs studios extend to independent retailers as a sort of "make good" for the direct revenue-sharing deals they cut with Blockbuster.

Retailers have always complained about goals being too high and unrealistic, but their complaints appear to be getting louder and more indignant. Simply put, they object to the studios in essence telling them how they should buy, and further feel if they support one title with an atypically large buy, they are punished on a subsequent release should that title become the "standard."

"Goals are bad for retailers because we are forced to bring in the wrong quantities of tapes...some times too many...some times too few," fumes one recent e-mailer. "Most stores will never order more than their goal because that will cause higher goals in the future... Goals are [also] bad for customers because stores are NOT free to tailor their inventories to the neighborhood. This 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL' system does not allow for diversity.

"To think that someone who has never stepped foot in my store has the power to tell me what to stock is absurd."

I certainly believe complaining retailers have a valid issue here, but unfortunately I don't see much hope up ahead. Normally, retailers would voice these complaints to their distributors, in the hopes that wholesalers would then band together and demand the studios set things right.

But in these days of waning market share, one wonders how much clout distributors have left. This year's National Association of Video Distributors (NAVD) conference should be a telling indicator, both in how many studio executives opt to even attend and in how receptive they are to what the wholesalers say.

Short of that, retailers can't do anything about goals they feel are unrealistic except to continue to complain loudly and vociferously -- and, of course, to combat the situation the way they have since the whole copy-depth movement was born in the fall of 1997, by taking the matters into their own hands.

In a sideways sort of way, of course.

Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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