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Retailers Find Tie-ins for Urban Merchandising

24 Aug, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

Merchandising urban product can be a tricky thing, it's a subgenre that crosses drama, action, music and even horror borders. Few, if any, retailers parcel out and label a section as “urban” but savvy stockers who know they will have customers on the lookout for such product have ways of making sure the titles can be found.

Of course, Warner's theatrical actioner Cradle 2 the Grave, starring Jet Li, got strong attention in the racks at all the Southern California outlets visited last week.

A high-profile urban-themed release from the recent past, Universal's Empire, is still getting decent play in the racks with plenty of stock. At Best Buy, the title is getting play at the front of the DVD section, in a “special buys” area next to the newest and hottest releases. Empire and 8 Mile are shrink-wrapped together for $17.99.

Other retailers use the strong music tie-in that other, lower-profile, nontheatrical urban titles have. Music is the natural connector for urban titles, especially for music retailers.

At last week's Tower Records location, an endcap labeled “It's All Good,” boasted plenty of copies of Ventura's rap documentary Biggie & Tupac next to music DVDs like Nas: God's Son, as well as other non hip-hop or rap music DVDs and CDs. Sharing the endcap was another display labeled “Top 20 Music DVD,” where Plexifilm's documentary Style Wars, perhaps one of the most pervasive urban titles -- tackling urban lifestyle, graffiti art and music at the same time -- was stocked.

At a nearby Virgin Megastore, Style Wars was highlighted on an eye-level shelf in the documentary section, and Cradle 2 the Grave got similar treatment in the action/adventure section. Documentaries featuring hip-hop or rap stars like Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur get prime placement among the store's deep selection of music DVD product, like a special Thug Angel collector's set, which includes the Shakur documentary, a bonus extras disc, a CD soundtrack and a 46-page biography of the slain rap star.

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