Marvel's press conference today, also attended by Diamond VP Marketing Communications Roger Fletcher, was devoted to the major change in its trade terms which it recently announced for retailers serviced by Diamond (see 'New Marvel Trade Terms Rationalize Order Cycle').
Marvel President Bill Jemas kicked things off by thanking Diamond for the 'tremendous amount of work' the terms change had taken and was going to take in the future, and describing the change as one 'that really helps people that buy from Marvel.'
Diamond's Fletcher said of retailer reaction, 'When the announcement came out last week we fielded a lot of calls from retailers wanting to understand how it's going to work going forward, and by and large the response of the retail community has been very positive to these changes, in terms of the flexibility...and in terms of their reorder purchases counting toward their discount plateaus. It's been quite well received by the retail community.'
Jemas explained how the new terms will fit into Marvel's public relations-driven marketing strategy. 'Everything in comics was a two wave marketing front,' said Jemas, first around the time of sell-in, when retailers order books, and then sell through marketing to drive consumer purchases. 'It's very difficult with limited funds and attention spans to have a two wave publicity front,' he continued. 'This does afford Marvel the opportunity to have one publicity wave much closer to the release date.' Since a publicity wave lasts about a month, Marvel will be able to mount a single public relations push that will start before retailers have to finalize their orders and continue through the book's release date. Marvel had previously tried the two-wave strategy in its recent push for The Truth (see 'Marvel Gears Up PR Earlier for Black Cap'), to lackluster results.
Asked by ICv2 whether Diamond was going to adapt its marketing tools to a weekly schedule, including the possibility of a weekly frequency for Previews, to match the operational ordering cycle, Fletcher said Diamond was '...working with Marvel to sharpen our marketing tools.' He listed the tools that Diamond currently has available for conveying information after the Previews ordering deadline, including Diamond Dateline, Diamond Daily, and the weekly list of titles hitting their order cut-offs, and said 'As this new system evolves, we'll come up with new and better ways to communicate.' Marvel also jumped in and mentioned its e-mailer to retailers and Dot-comics as ways it would be providing more up-to-date information to retailers.
Asked whether Marvel expected the strategy to be a competitive advantage vs. other publishers, Jemas said it would, but that Marvel was '...hoping that it will be a short-lived advantage, and that other publishers will move to this system as well,' because of its benefits to the industry.
Other key details that had not previously been made public include:
- In response to an ICv2 question, Jemas indicated that Marvel anticipates that this will be a 'lateral' pricing move, with no impact on its margins.
- 'Triple-checked' Marvel discounts under the new terms will be available to retailers this Friday, March 7.
- Diamond is working to give retailers the ability to make order changes electronically; currently the only way to alter an order that was previously placed is by calling a customer service representative.
- Diamond is reviewing its market share and Top 300 comic calculations, which are currently based on advance orders. According to Fletcher, 'That system of calculating market shares and top products isn't as foolproof as it once might have been....We may wind up focusing more on what actually son than on what may have been ordered [through Previews].
- Diamond plans to change its terms for non-broker products (i.e., everything except Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse products). It will stop counting Marvel purchases toward its discount thresholds, and lower those thresholds accordingly.