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Gift Set Frenzy

5 Dec, 2013 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Just as the market for luxury goods seems to weather economic downturns better than most, the market for elaborate and often pricey Blu-ray Disc and DVD gift sets is a reliable revenue-generator —recession or no recession, home entertainment sales slump or no sales slump.

Indeed, what studios call the “premium gift set” business appears tailor-made for the holidays, when everyone’s out searching for the ideal present for friends, families and business associates. For the price of a decent bottle of wine or gift basket, consumers get a gift that literally keeps on giving, particularly if it’s a complete series of a popular TV show with dozens of hours of programming.

And after the discount stampede over the Thanksgiving Day weekend — this year’s Black Friday frenzy saw hundreds of top-quality blockbusters selling for less than $2 on DVD and $4 on Blu-ray Disc — consumers’ attentions are now being directed toward real gifts rather than stocking stuffers.

This, folks, is when Joe Consumer gets serious.

And while the studios have rolled out dozens of elaborate gift sets over the years — a practice that began in earnest shortly after the birth of DVD made it possible to cram huge amounts of programming into a relatively small amount of space, compared to the clunky videocassette — each year they manage to come up with tantalizing new releases, often issued in collectible packaging and limited quantities that only intensify demand. For example, Shout! Factory is preparing a collector's set of all 20 seasons of the "Power Rangers" TV series packaged in a replica helmet.

It’s not just complete series of long-running TV shows or huge movie collections, either. One of this year’s hottest gift sets, Warner’s JFK: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition, centers on a single film.

“The theatrical library segment of our business continues to be driven by a high-low consumer proposition, both physically and digitally,” said Jeff Baker, EVP and GM of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Theatrical Catalog. “EST/HD has grown 227%, year over year, in consumer dollars, with transactions averaging $14.50.

“And on the physical side, higher-priced DVD and Blu-ray Disc gift sets priced above $20 are trending ahead of last year. For Warner Bros., “Harry Potter,” “Batman,” The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit extended edition are driving our high-end growth.”

Vincent Marcais, EVP of worldwide brand marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said there are two big trends this year in the premium gift-set market.

“First, we’re seeing more ‘shelf appeal’ — interesting and innovative themed packaging designs that fans are excited to display,” he said. “Secondly, there’s a trend toward more exclusive content. It’s not enough to just repackage titles that have been released before, so we’re also creating new content that dives deeper into the films.

“As an example, our X-Men Adamantium Collection has both: there’s the lifelike Wolverine claw that holds all six ‘X-Men’ films, and, additionally, we’ve included a bonus discs with a one-hour documentary about the series, Legacy X: Wolverine and the X-Men.”

Marcais said the market for premium-priced gift sets has remained remarkably steady. “Collections are a very important part of our business,” he said. “There are many reasons consumers want collector’s editions of products. Certain consumers are passionate collectors, while some are hobbyists. Our goal is to create packages with enough value, exclusivity and ‘cool factor’ that create excitement and drive additional awareness for the title."

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