A Wal-Mart wallop on homevid

Retailer reels in 33% of U.S. sales

Discount retail juggernaut Wal-Mart now accounts for a whopping 33% of all new and used DVD and VHS purchases in the U.S., according to a new survey of America’s burgeoning population of DVD lovers.

The monthly research survey from market researchers NPD shines a much-needed spotlight on the fast-evolving consumption habits of America’s video buyers and renters.

Based on data samples between October 2003 and April 2004, NPD found that mass market retailers as a whole are responsible for 42% of all VHS and DVD purchases. Best Buy is making inroads on Wal-Mart with 13% of all units sold, with rental shop Blockbuster and retailer Target claim at around 6% each.

Drawing on a large weekly sampling of consumers that reflects the broader U.S. population, NPD’s new weekly survey provides a wealth of information about which DVDs and videos consumers are buying and renting, where they’re doing it and why.

Among the early findings, for example, is that more than half of all consumers who bought “Finding Nemo” had not previously seen the film in a theater, and half were aged 25-34. Study also found that 20% of “Nemo” buyers reported that a TV ad motivated their purchase.

Deep discounts

The discount/mass merchants are selling DVDs at an average price of $15.41 — 11% below the average overall sell-through price. NPD’s Russ Crupnick notes, however, that some of the price differential can be a function of what they sell, such as kids’ straight-to-video titles. Still, among Wal-Mart DVD buyers, some 23% cited price as their primary motivation for buying. A full quarter of buyers said they “found title while browsing.”

In the rental category, Blockbuster is still the clear leader, with around 42% of all respondents saying they rented a title there. But online subscription shop Netflix is starting to make a real dent, accounting for 9.8% of all rented titles thanks in part to its all-you-can-view model. Wal-Mart’s online subscription service registered barely 0.2% of rental transactions.

Comedy seems to be the most popular genre, accounting for some 24% of all DVD purchases, followed by action/adventure (21%) and children’s titles (16%).

Rich man, poor man

Offering a rare glimpse of consumer demographics, panel shows that habitues of Netflix and Blockbuster are nearly three times more likely to have a post-graduate education than their Wal-Mart counterparts and sport nearly triple the income level.

NPD’s new video/DVD monitoring survey, VideoWatch, collects detailed weekly information about the homevideo rental and purchase habits of America’s consumers, tracking rentals and sales at traditional outlets as well as emerging distribution channels such as subscription and video-on-demand.

Service, for which several Hollywood studios and one major retailer have already signed up, provides access to detailed competitive information for the retailers across a range of retail channels, from mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart to specialty vidstores like Blockbuster. Data also includes pricing info across most film genres and titles and includes videos from all major production and distribution companies, including Warner Home Video, MGM, Fox, Sony and Paramount.

NPD has a similar service called MusicWatch, a consumer survey of music consumption habits.

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