Written by Randy Davis
Monday, 05 November 2012 12:34 PM EST
Market for value-driven music and
movies is still strong
Christian retailers must
consider how best to appeal to wider community
digital revolution may not be as revolutionary as believed, according
to a music survey that found listeners more in tune with friends’
tips and radio than blogs and social networking.”—Edna Gunderson,
like The Barna Group, Nielsen and others track the things that make
us tick, drive our passion and motivate us to perform one way or the
other. They help us understand those we serve and those we seek to
In The TRU Study 2012 of Christian Music Consumers, a division of TNS Custom Research, “Value Monitor” indicators rank the importance of Religion and
Faith, the similarity of Worldview with our parents’ generation and
Traditional values. All of these come out exceptionally high among
Christian music consumers when
compared to the country at large.
the same time, the indicators also show we drastically undervalue the
importance of clothes or products with a particular brand (equating
specific brands with quality) and that we hold the value that
“Success” means making a lot of money. The importance we place on
happiness skyrockets on Religious and Spiritual Fulfillment and
plummets compared to the general populace on “Partying” and
having material things.
our complaints align with others on daily life in regard to sleep,
money and work. We chart highest on “not having enough time in the
day” and “stress.” We are more likely to view our generation as
“living in dangerous times” and less likely to view opportunity
for the future and focus on goals against the populace as a whole.
the under-30 crowd, the statistics show Christian music consumers
foresee having kids as more likely than our peers and that they view
themselves as less likely to get divorced, fired or to have
multiple/many romantic relationships.
we look for specific behavioral activity that affects the Christian
industry and those we serve, NPD Group’s recent Contemporary
Christian Music Executive Summary is
enlightening. Of specific note, out of the estimated 15.5 million
Contemporary Christian music fans, the highest degree of separation
in TV viewing habits when compared with our non-believing neighbors
is watching Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and the Gospel Music
Channel (GMC). Yet even the Christian community seems to follow the
trends of our society and gravitates to Country (GAC) and
family/kid-friendly cable networks such as Disney XD, ABC Family,
Boomerang and Nick at Nite. Interestingly, Full
(ABC) is our highest-indexing show followed by What
Not to Wear
may ask, “So, what does that mean to our industry, our channel and
your customers?” What it tells me is that the entertainment
category in our industry is increasingly important for stores to
consider. Not only does it mean we need to continue to support core
Christian artists and programs, but we need to recognize that society
trends and demands—even among the church crowd—are looking for
wholesome forms of entertainment in music and movies. We as an
industry need to recognize this, embrace it and perhaps grow the
relevance of our retail footprint in the communities we seek to
NPD study further reveals that customer’s magazine consumption
indexes highest ministry favorites like Focus
on the Family
In addition and not so surprisingly, Southern
ranks high with our market. Our online habits trend comparative to
users as a whole on the staples of Facebook, Bing, Google and eBay,
while top indices for Christian consumers against the general
populace is for Christian content found at Biblegateway.com,
Christianbook.com and GodTube.com.
than 50% of us communicate connect with friends, post messages and
post photos through social networking sites. We play and sing with a
band, write music and lyrics, and play musical instruments other than
guitar more likely than others. We like to make records and videos as
a hobby. We love to meet in book clubs. And, obviously, we like to go
The Barna Group we learn that radio still ranks highest for music
discovery, followed by friend and relative recommendations. For
product purchases, radio has double the impact of social media, while
a pastor’s recommendation trumps them all.
is all of this so important in the Christian products industry?
Because we need to understand exactly who our customers are, what
makes them tick and what they value most. What will drive them into
our stores to buy our products? You see, folks, our consumption of
music and video in physical format is above trends in the general
market, according to Nielsen’s comprehensive consumer survey, Music
Ergo, our customers still find physical Christian product a value.
Christian music fans skew toward
females over 25. The majority of Christian music listeners live in
the South in a four-plus member household with an average income of
$45,000-$74,000. While the female buyer prefers Adult
Contemporary/Pop, Males purchase Rock most often. Live music events
are most attended by 18-34 year olds followed by the 45-and-older
crowd. Teens up to age 54 are mostly likely to purchase T-shirts at a
concert while 55 and up will purchase CDs/DVDs.
are the people who are consumers of the products we create and sell.
These are the hungry—looking for spiritual truth through many forms
of entertainment. These are the sons and daughters of our Creator who
are looking to raise their families and enjoy for themselves
Christ-centered alternatives to what the world is offering. Like the
study shows, they desire wholesome products from many providers and
look for it in many areas.
Christian products industry has always been and hopefully always will
be a true source of solid products for adults and children alike. Our
customers will have purchased 7 million units of music titles through
the Christian retail channel as of press time, and we will see
upwards of 6 million units of DVD/Home Entertainment.
these statistics from some of our industry’s best-known brands and
new releases making an impact this year:
- Courageous has
led the charge with more than 500,000 units across the counter in its
first four months and is well on its way to a million in sales.
friends Bob & Larry and the VeggieTales release of Robin Good
will scan more than 100,000 units this year.
- October Baby has
made a big impact in the lives of our most defenseless, and sales
continue to climb in only its first few weeks in retail.
- We have welcomed new,
traffic-driving music releases from top-sellers Wow Hits 2012,
TobyMac, Third Day, Kari Jobe, Mercy Me and Francesca Battistelli.
You see, we still
serve members of a community that looks very much like our neighbors,
yet has a worldview that draws them to the content of your store. We
have traffic-drawing releases that are ripe for your customers and
are exactly what they want—from a shop ethos based on values just
like their own. So, don’t lose heart as technology innovations
change seemingly at the blink of an eye. Know your customer and serve
them! And, remember, as Mark Twain so eloquently stated upon hearing
that his obituary had been published in the mainstream media: “The
reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Written by Randy Davis
Monday, 05 November 2012 12:28 PM EST
Iconic artist is still drawn to Christian retail stores
Curtis Chapman sees the work of Christian retailing as an ‘incredible
STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN shares his
thoughts on Christian retail and this year’s Christmas release,
Joy. Chapman has sold more than 10 million records, including
two RIAA-certified Platinum albums and eight RIAA-certified Gold
albums. He has amassed 46 No. 1 singles, 57 GMA Dove Awards; five
GRAMMY awards, an American Music Award and more than 200 songs
recorded on 17 original albums in his 25-year career. In 2013,
Chapman will follow the Christmas release with his first full studio
release of all new material since 2007’s This Moment.
You’ve been a songwriter and
singer of Christian music for quite a few years now. I’m interested
in finding out what a typical experience looks like for you when you
walk into a Christian retail store.
To be completely
honest, I always feel a little overwhelmed when I walk into a
Christian retail store because I’m immediately reminded how many
great books there are that I don’t have yet. It’s a little bit of
a problem because I usually have a stack of books sitting on my night
stand that I haven’t finished yet, but as soon as I walk into a
store, I start wanting to add more to the stack. I’m a sucker for a
cool cover. Then there’s the music and the video/DVD section!
Seriously though, I am always encouraged to see and be reminded how
many great resources are available to encourage people on their
journey (OK, sometimes I covertly check to make sure they have some
of my music in stock, too).
In your entire music
catalog, which record or records do you feel were most embraced by
Christian retail and why?
That’s a tough
question. I’ve been grateful to hear stories of how each of my
records have been used by God to encourage and minister to people in
unique ways. I guess if I had to pick out a few, I’d say More to
This Life was one that I felt was particularly embraced by
Christian retail probably in part because that record had “I Will
Be Here” on it. That song seemed to connect with many people and
has been used in many weddings, which has probably brought a lot of
people in looking for that song and that album, particularly before
the iTunes era. Then I’d say The Great Adventure was another
one that seemed to be very strongly supported by Christian retail.
Why that was is hard for the artist to answer, but I’d say [it] was
partly because of the excitement the song “The Great Adventure”
itself created among Christian music listeners and particularly youth
groups and church groups. I think records like that one and
Speechless created excitement among my friends at Christian
retail because of songs like “Dive,” “Fingerprints of God”
and “Speechless” that really seemed to connect with people.
you could offer any advice to the readers of Christian
Retailing—many who are Christian retail owners and
employees—what would that be?
I’d probably just
want to encourage them to know how important what they do every day
really is to the building and growing of God’s kingdom. I know it’s
a business and work, but we have this amazing opportunity with what
we do to point people toward the eternal and precious truth of God’s
love and grace, expressed in music and books and, ultimately, the
Holy Bible, and that’s an incredible privilege! I would just want
to remind Christian retailers to never forget what a gift we’ve
been entrusted with and know that what they do really matters.
Anything you want to offer to
our readers that may or may not have anything to do with Christian
As always, I’d
just encourage them what I need to be reminded of everyday—we are
loved more than we can imagine by the God of the universe! I’d also
want to remind them that the One who loves us has entrusted us with
gifts and abilities that we can use uniquely to worship Him and bring
Him glory, and that is ultimately what we were made for.
music industry has shifted quite a bit in the last 10-15 years. How
has this impacted you? Does this at all influence what you’re
thinking about writing or recording?
Well, I can tell
you I’m more humbled than ever to still be doing it. I’ve been
doing this for 25 years! Can you believe that? I started when I was
very, very young, of course, a child prodigy of sorts you might say.
Actually, no, I wasn’t. But I have been extremely thankful for the
opportunity to record and release these 17 albums and counting. I
still feel God has things for me to say and share, and I want to be
faithful to Him in doing so. From the beginning my goal has been to
know Him and make Him known, and I want to try to be true to the
writing and storytelling God has given me to do. I plan to keep doing
that as long as you’ll have me.
You just wrote and recorded a
Christmas record called JOY. Tell us about
it; what influenced you and a couple of your favorite tracks (and
recording re:creation, I wasn’t quite sure what next step to
take in my creative journey. I started exploring the idea of writing
and arranging some new Christmas music. I have to admit I was kind of
surprised by the joy that began to surface in the process,
considering the journey my family has been on these past
four-and-a-half years with the loss of our daughter Maria in the
accident. I think that I just started remembering my childhood and
then really celebrating my family. Even as hard as things have been,
and as bittersweet as it relates to things like celebrations and
holidays, we have begun to experience that the sweet is starting to
trump the bitter for us more and more each year. Christmas is
becoming a less hard thing for us each year. It’s not that it’s
easier to get through because we are forgetting. It’s like we can
remember now without it just being so painful, and the memories can
be sweet. So when I started writing these new songs I was really
excited. I’ve written a couple songs on this Christmas record that
sound like they could of come off a Nat King Cole record or an Andy
Williams album. They sound like the old stuff that I love. One of my
favorite Christmas songs is Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas
Song.” I just love that song and I love the A Charlie Brown
Christmas record. Joy has seven classics I’ve redone and
six new ones I’ve written, and much of the album has that cool
vintage sound that just says Christmas. I can’t wait for you to
You have a new studio record out in
2013. Can you give us a sneak peek at its theme? What can listeners
It’s still a little too early in the
incubation to share specifics. I can say I feel like God is giving me
fresh things to say and I’m emerged by the music I’m writing and
the ideas that are coming.
Read more of this Q&A at
Written by Randy Davis
Monday, 05 November 2012 12:14 PM EST
GUEST EDITOR RANDY DAVIS, VICE
PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING, PROVIDENT DISTRIBUTION
Mirroring the principles of
Best practices in Christian
retailing parallel communicating our faith
“Passing along the beach of Lake
Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was
their regular work. Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me. I’ll make
a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men
and women instead of perch and bass.’ They didn’t ask questions.
They dropped their nets and followed” (Mark 1:16-18, MSG).
The concepts of intentional
relationship evangelism are easily understood, but they are often not
as easily executed. The simple message of the Good News is that it
is, well, good news!
evangelism to fishing. Grab your net. Cast your net. Go fish. Sure,
there will be some you chase after and don’t catch. However, there
will be many you don’t go after and catch anyway. But, you don’t
really fish just standing on the bank looking at the water. You jump
in the boat and row away from the shore.
relationship-based sales and service should be proactive, not
reactive. Relationship-based sales principles may not come naturally
to all, but with a little practice can truly have the greatest impact
on your in-reach into your local community.
offers so many new ways to inter-connect with others in the culture
we live. Unfortunately, because of the ease of viewing life from
afar, we can become more isolated in our up-close, personal
relationships. Sure, we “post,” “tweet” and “pin” to
dress the set of who are, or at least who we want the world around us
to think we are. But we have shortened the experience of our
interactions with others to the maximum-allowed 140 characters per
tweet. We have become “safe for the whole family” as the tagline
In business, we
have followed suit. We strategize on the maximum content for
strategically placed emails to get the highest open rate. We have
dissected our market into demographic slices of pie of an
infographic-laden meal served to our friends who consume the most. We
know about their habits based more on zip code than on the personal
history we have with them.
And, when things go
south, as they do, we are often left looking—and eventually
finding—the real relationships that will stand the test of time.
Most often they are not the casual followers of our posts or readers
of our blogs, but those whom we have with walked through life. Real
life. Wind and rain, drought and flood, birth and death kind of life.
They are neighbors and relatives. They are friends from school and
parents of the kids you coach. They are people. You care for them and
they care for you. They love you for it!
retailing, they are the guests in our stores—our customers. And,
contrary to the old customer-service adage, they are not always
right. But they are always our customers who, with a few simple
reminders, will deliver a treasure of rewards, in addition to
continued business as we engage and serve them.
The first habit in Stephen Covey’s
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Be proactive.”
Know your customer. No, not just their buying habits and statistics.
Rather, truly know your customers—their names, where they go to
church, what they like and what they have purchased from your store.
Ask questions. Listen. Remember.
Practically speaking, get out of the
office and into the store. Engage customers and don’t be shy in
recommending books, music and DVDs that are current in your community
or have had an impact on your life. Get out of the store and into
your car to make intentional visits to pastors and their church staff
to offer to serve them, not just to get a quick sale, but to offer
services that set your store and staff apart. Have each person on
your staff be a specialist/customer service representative to
individual churches and offer to drop off orders on their way home.
And now, the truly daring part—get
to know your marketplace competitors—and not merely their pricing
and promotion plans or corporate structure. But, purpose to know your
competitor as an individual. What’s his life story? Where does she
go to church? How can you pray for him or her? This is the part where
you step into the boat and row out into the deep water. Be kind and
never speak ill of them.
- Share a relevant message … and a meal.
You are on the cutting edge of
now-trends in music, new messages through home entertainment and new
books and studies on the truth of God’s love for the community you
serve. When you find something you really believe in, share it!
Really S-H-A-R-E it. Offer a free copy of the book or study to key
influencers in your market. Invite them to join you for theatrical
screenings of upcoming faith-based movies. Invite them to dinner.
Invite them to lunch. Invite them to breakfast. Invite! Invite!
- Pray. Pray
for yourself and your staff. Pray asking, not merely for God to bring
customers, but for God to send you to meet the needs of others, who
may just turn out to be customers in the end.
- Do a little. Do a lot. Do
something! Like fishing, you do not have to begin after
practicing and perfecting your plan. Start slowly and add a little at
a time. My grandfather started me fishing with a cane pole and a
bobble. Just bait the hook and drop the line in the water. Start
“After this, Jesus appeared again to
the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee).
This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”),
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other
disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, ‘I’m going
The rest of them replied, ‘We’re
going with you.’ They went out and got in the boat. They caught
nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the
beach, but they didn’t recognize him.
Jesus spoke to
them: ‘Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?’
He said, ‘Throw
the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.’
They did what he
said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t
strong enough to pull it in.
Then the disciple
Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It’s the Master!’
When Simon Peter
realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was
stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in
by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so,
pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat,
they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.
Jesus said, ‘Bring
some of the fish you’ve just caught.’ Simon Peter joined them and
pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish,
the net didn’t rip.
Jesus said, ‘Breakfast is ready’ ”
(John 21:1-12a, MSG).
Written by Cris Doornbos
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 10:30 AM EDT
Leading people, adapting to change
and staying healthy
Launching a Leadership Revolution:
Mastering the Five Levels of Influence by Chris Brady & Orrin
Woodward (Business Plus, 978-0-446-58071-7,
Sooner or later, we
are all called to lead in some capacity. Leadership skills are vital
in corporate settings, small businesses, church or community
organizations and even within the home. Brady and Woodward have
recognized this need and have jointly created an in-depth,
step-by-step guide for developing leadership skills.
Utilizing an abundance of historical examples, the authors have
developed a unique five-step plan that charts a course for creating
and maintaining strong leadership in any organization. The plan
guides the reader through the “Five Levels of Influence”:
- Learning: a leader must be able to learn from
- Performing: persevere through failure to find
- Leading: extend your ability by expanding your
- Developing Leaders: learn to trust your people
- Develop Leaders who Develop Leaders: create a
This book is full of prescriptive advice, quotes and
anecdotes that illustrate the authors’ principles.
This is the best book I’ve read on
leadership to date! It addresses the priorities and practical issues
of what a leader is, what a leader brings to his team/organization,
what a leader does and how a leader grows, all the while using
historical examples from real people like Winston Churchill, William
Wilberforce, the apostle Paul, Theodore Roosevelt and more.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People by Steven R. Covey (Free Press, 978-0-743-26951-3,
Covey presents a
holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving
personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and
pointed anecdotes, he reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with
fairness, integrity, service and human dignity—principles that give
us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take
advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
When I first read this book as a young
man, it completely changed the way I viewed managing time and leading
people. This is an absolute must-read for future leaders. Just last
week I gave this book to my nephew, who is a youth pastor in a small
church in Michigan.
Spiritual Leadership: Moving People
on to God’s Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby (B&H
Drawing on their
own extensive leadership experience as well as their ministry to
leaders in all walks of life, the authors Blackaby offer insightful
counsel into the ways God develops, guides and empowers spiritual
leaders. Clear guidance is given as to how leaders can make a
positive impact on the people and organizations they are currently
One of the best reads on vision came
from this book in the chapter “The Leaders Vision: Where Do Leaders
Get It and How Do They Communicate It?” The other chapter that
spoke to me was “The Leader’s Schedule: Doing What’s
Important.” These two chapters alone were worth the price of the
None of These Diseases: The Bible’s
Health Secrets for the 21st Century by S.I. McMillen, M.D., &
David E. Stern, M.D. (Revell/Baker Publishing Group,
Asserting that the
truth of the Bible holds the key to healthy living, None of These
Diseases identifies how many life-threatening medical conditions
could be prevented through living a committed Christian life and
following the instructions in the Old and New Testament.
As a young man, the examples in this
book of how we get and prevent diseases served to strengthen my faith
in the creator God and validate the more obscure passages in the
Bible, particularly in Leviticus. They also helped me understand the
absolute and profound wisdom of God in the creation of the human race
and how I could better care for my body as the temple of the living