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Anchor Bay Tops Fitness Sales in First Quarter

25 Apr, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf


It was a kinder, gentler fitness sales arena for first quarter 2002, with yoga and Pilates titles dominating VideoScan top-seller charts and stealing thunder from high-impact, step and kickboxing workout programs.

Anchor Bay Entertainment emerged as market share leader for fitness's all-important first quarter, according to VideoScan point-of-sale tracking data. (VideoScan data does not include Wal-Mart sales.)

Suppliers in the fitness market agree that the genre is all about trends -- and the trend right now is toward the softer workouts that yoga and Pilates programs provide.

Michelle Rygiel, senior brand manager for fitness and special interest at Detroit-based Anchor Bay, said consumer interest in yoga and programs like it is definitely on the rise.

“I think Pilates and yoga will remain strong throughout this year and next year,” Rygiel said. “But there has to be variety. Not all consumers are going to convert to soft exercise.”

Anchor Bay bucked the soft trend a bit last year with The 7-Day Solution, a daily intermediate-level cardio and toning workout that comes with a day-by-day meal-planning program.

Collagevideo.com, a Minneapolis-based fitness-video sales Web site, has reviews of videos and a bank of customer-service representatives who are paid to do the workouts and recommend exercise programs to Web shoppers. Jill Ross, director of product acquisitions for Collagevideo.com, said one of the reasons Pilates titles in particular are so popular right now is the sheer volume of them on the market. Copyright and license issues with the Pilates name were resolved only in the last year or so, making the name available for branding.

“Everybody and their mother and their mother's sister and their neighbor have a new Pilates video out right now,” Ross said.

Anchor Bay's Rygiel said that DVD sales are on a steady rise, with day-and-date-released DVDs selling about 25 percent of their VHS counterpart titles for the supplier.

On Ross' Web site, DVD makes up 14 percent to 18 percent of total sales, which is a little higher than the retail average, she said, in part due to the increased number of titles a Web site can carry.

Another trend Rygiel noted -- one that is good for the market in general -- is the increasing success of branded fitness lines like her company's “For Dummies” and “Crunch” lines, rather than products that focus on a single fitness celebrity.

Collage's Ross agreed, citing “The Firm” fitness series of videos as a strong brand that is gaining popularity and consumer confidence. She also noted that some of the newer fitness celebrities don't seem to be invoking the same selling power of market standbys like Billy Blanks, Denise Austin, Karen Voight and Kathy Smith.

Denise Austin's move to Artisan Entertainment in 2000 propelled that supplier to top fitness market share in first-quarter 2001. Artisan garnered third place this year, although Denise Austin workouts still remain atop VideoScan charts. Artisan also branched out into the yoga trend with the new “Yoga Fusion” collection. Hosea Belcher, SVP of marketing, said the supplier is continuing to incorporate trends into Austin workouts with May's release of Pilates for Everybody.

The Billy Blanks “Tae Bo” titles, big hits last year, dropped in popularity in first-quarter 2002, though Ventura released a new set of Tae Bo workouts, the “Get Ripped” series. Third in fitness market share in first-quarter 2001, the supplier landed at No. 7 this year. Ventura earlier this year picked up seasoned veteran Karen Voight (Video Store Magazine, March 17-23). Ventura director of marketing Charmaine Klohe said Voight will release titles that pay attention to trends like yoga but are not dictated by them. “If kickboxing isn't a strength of hers, then she won't release a kickboxing workout,” she said.

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