By Melissa Donovan
The display and point of purchase (POP) space is always looking for the next big thing to promote a product or service and stand out from the crowd. Floor graphics are one way to do this. Digitally printed floor graphic media is designed to withstand heavy foot traffic while attractively catching the eye of the passerby.
Most advertising campaigns that utilize floor graphics require a media product that is durable, conveys a positive visual aesthetic, and features slip resistance. Despite these qualities, the graphic is usually only in service for a short period of time. There is a juxtaposition between quality and longevity. Print service providers (PSPs) look to vendors to offer something that is economical yet satisfies these needs.
Floor graphics are ideal for short-term display and POP. Many retail-based projects or those found in trade shows are intended to be in place for a limited amount of time. Taking an advantage of an underutilized space—the floor—is an effective marketing tactic in these environments.
“In retail settings, there is a lot of wasted space if someone is not taking advantage of floor advertising,” explains E. Tyler Reich, director of product development, Que Media Inc. Based on his experience, an increase in as much as 50 percent in additional advertising space occurs by adding floor graphics.
“Retail environments are all about real estate, advertising real estate that is, and floor graphics enable a retailer to take full advantage of every square inch of that valuable space. The ability to surround a consumer with a particular branding message is sought after by larger brands,” adds Craig Campbell, market manager, graphic innovations, Orafol Americas.
These environments often lack free wall space and floor graphics are the best option. “Grocery stores are a perfect example. All the food is on the shelves, so the only available advertising space is the floor. These graphics stand out to the consumer as they walk down the aisle,” suggests Alan Dworman, president, Catalina Graphic Films Inc.
“Floor graphics are ideal in the POP space because your ‘medium’ is already in place, just like with your booth display, floor space literally becomes a free marketing platform. Floor graphics sharply focus the consumer’s attention, making any content under their feet instantly meaningful and relevant,” shares Josh Cormany, digital media division manager, Gans Ink & Supply.
Brian Biegel, marketing communications specialist, D&K, agrees that floors are a natural place for graphics, since they offer a large blank canvas for marketing messages of all types. In addition, they aren’t jockeying against as much clutter.
For example, store shelving can be crowded. “Several brands compete not only for shelf space, but also customer mindshare. Floor graphics are not used as commonly as other POP advertising, however this makes them ideal because it allows brands to showcase their products in a larger format,” points out Matt Buckley, business development manager, wide format market, GPA, Specialty Substrate Solutions.
A floor graphic promotes right in front—or underneath—a product, or better yet acts as a directional tool. “Imagine a floor graphic at the entrance of a grocery store that advertises a product, and details its location in the store; the graphic reminds the customer that they need it, or suggests they need it. It lets the customer know where it is, and a complementary product can be advertised with it,” recommends Dennis Brunnett, technical service specialist, product branding business team, FLEXcon.
“This surface is only used to walk on, so putting arrows to direct how to get somewhere or advertise products on an aisle are great ways to utilize space and advertise,” admits Heather McCusker, wide format product line manager, Agfa Graphics. “And now with many people looking down at their phones, floor graphics are finding a larger audience. It’s the last advertising surface to be conquered.”
Never mind looking at phones, Micah Causey, VP, FloorSignage, LLC, points out the fact that people look where they are walking. “We look ahead to navigate so when a floor graphic is in the pedestrian path, it is seen and makes an impression. Floor graphics are eye catching because they are within the peripheral vision.”
Features PSPs should consider when choosing a floor graphic material for short-term display and POP include safety, installation and removal challenges, and durability. Outside factors like the intended floor surface and cleaning supplies also play a role in the decision.
Despite a short lifespan, safety and durability are of the utmost importance. “A low slip potential rating for the surface of the graphic is ideal as well as a good adhesive where foot traffic will not cause it to lift,” notes Nate Goodman, product manager, Drytac.
“If a laminate or media is not approved for anti-slip, customers could easily slip and fall, leaving the business owner liable,” advises Cory Jones, associate product manager, wide format, GBC and SEAL.
René Bourgeois, key account manager, ASLAN, Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG, agrees that it is essential a floor graphic media carry an anti-slip rating.
PSPs need to ask specific questions when researching a material that provides a safe walking surface for the life of the graphic in the space it is to be placed, according to Jeffrey Stadelman, marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products. Does this media meet the current building codes for a safe walking surface? What adhesion level is required to insure the graphic will stay down on the intended surface for the intended life of the graphic?
When it comes to installation and removal and everything in between, “features to look for would include easy to apply adhesive with clean removal and a durable base film that resists punctures, tears, and chemicals, allowing it to be used in areas of high traffic and regular cleaning,” shares Timothy Schoenbeck, business development – wide format, Kernow North America.
“Graphic providers should heavily consider installation as this is the biggest expense in the process, specifically the media should be cost effective, easy to install, and durable,” explains Jason Bartusick, product development/strategic planning, Media One Digital Imaging Solutions, LLC.
High-traffic concerns directly affect the graphic’s durability. “PSPs should know how heavy the foot traffic is in the area where the graphic will be located. For example, will the graphics be near an entry door area that may collect more dirt, moisture, and debris than a floor graphic that is inside the store in an aisle?” asks Molly Waters, senior technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions.
Besides the material, factors like the floor surface and how it is cleaned before install and during placement are critical considerations. “The floor surface, cleanliness of the area, and cleaning methods used at the site also play a key role in determining which materials work best,” suggests Marcel Medved, business development director, Continental Grafix USA, Inc.
“Floor graphic materials must have sufficient opacity and adhesion to multiple types of floor surfaces—they need to continue to adhere until the graphics manufacturer or brand owner selectively removes them,” adds Tammi Johnson, business development manager, 3M Commercial Solutions.
Quality vs. Cost
Media vendors must justify offering a durable, visually appealing product despite the premise it will only be used for short-term POP and display. Cost takes into account the limited amount of time the graphics are in place in addition to the aforementioned features.
“Obviously square foot cost is an important factor when quoting a job, however pedestrian safety must always be the number one consideration when creating floor graphics. Saving a few bucks on the square foot cost to get the job produces an inferior graphic that does not meet current building code requirements,” explains Stadelman.
“There is really no need to cut quality when shopping for a short-term product. If you know your substrates and have a good handle on the different base materials, it is fairly easy to find a coater producing a great product at a competitive price,” agrees Reich.
To combat higher prices, choosing a multi-application film is a good idea, according to Johnson. This allows PSPs to carry less types of print media in their inventory.
Another option, reuse. “The high-quality, more durable floor products can be reused. For example, one chain store can run a promotion using a short-term floor graphic, roll it up, and ship it to the new store. The product can also be rolled and stored for use at another period of time,” suggests Kylie Schleicher, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
Larry Delesio, business development manager, wide format materials, DAF Products Inc., outlines that no matter the cost spent on the media, the PSP will reap the rewards. “Retail and commercial space is sold or rented by the square foot. Therefore, utilizing floor space as advertising that is normally allocated for foot traffic just makes sense since you are paying for it anyway. The cost to produce a single-step floor graphic option is under $1 per square foot but can be sold from $6 to $10 per square foot.”
Taking it a Step Further
It is important to note that there are two floor graphic solutions. Media that does not require an overlaminate is referred to as a one-step process. A system that includes a base material and a laminate is referred to as a two-step solution.
Many vendors argue that for short-term POP, the one-step solution is the most effective option in terms of justifying cost versus durability. “Anti-slip floor graphic films that need not be laminated keep costs low and are ideal for short-term campaigns,” adds Bourgeois.
“We understand the difficulty in choosing to spend more on quality material for short-term applications. Media that doesn’t require an overlaminate or heat assist during installation means faster production time and faster installation and removal, all of which saves money,” admits Causey.
According to Alison Zepp, VP of marketing and strategy, Jessup Manufacturing, materials without overlamination still maintain repositionability, ease of application and removability, and slip resistance. Cost per roll extends further when a high level of compatibility is an option—media that applies well to a variety of surfaces including carpet, tiles, wood, metal, painted surfaces, PVC, and untreated stone.
“When it comes to choosing a short-term slip resistant floor graphic material, it will always be quicker and easier to use a material that does not require lamination,” suggests Cormany.
A combination of a base material and overlaminate is often more expensive than a one-step floor graphic process. However, PSPs should consider this option for its durability.
“Although quality floor graphics can be expensive, customers do have options for creating a finished graphic perfectly suited for its use and within their budget. The overlaminate is the most costly part of a floor graphic, but is also the most important since it protects the image and provides slip resistance,” shares Buckley.
To get the most out of your material, Waters suggests using a calendered vinyl with a removable adhesive for general purpose smooth floors. For low pile carpet or smooth ceramic tiles, a calendered vinyl with permanent adhesive is ideal.
“PSPs should look to lower the total cost of the floor graphic by using a less expensive adhesive—especially when the graphic will be short term. It’s important not to skimp on safety and instead find adhesives and/or media to pair with the overlaminate that are often less expensive to decrease the overall cost per square foot,” advises Jones.
“The overlaminate is the key to floor graphics. Laminates can run from $1 per square foot down to $0.30 per square foot depending on thickness and finish,” explains McCusker.
With a recent rebranding effort underway, Sole Images looks to floor graphics as a marketing opportunity businesses can’t miss out on. Bruce Weber, partner, Sole Images, has 40 years of advertising knowledge under his belt and credits this as part of what’s helped him recognize that the sale of solutions and not products is what makes him and his customers successful.
Based in Scottsdale, AZ, a staff of six at Sole Images not only offers floor graphics but promotional items from key chains and tins to hats, tote bags, and t-shirts. “Our focus is on new opportunities—new avenues in business and marketing. Floor graphics is a great example of this. It’s utilizing an otherwise empty space,” explains Weber.
Sole Images targets very specific verticals for much of its floor graphics work. For example the civic market, reaching out to urban planners, city municipalities, and even school campuses. These end users aren’t necessarily aware of the potential of floor graphics and Sole Images must educate them. To do this, Weber and his team provide samples, usually with FloorSignage’s AlumiGraphics product.
Weber has known about FloorSignage’s AlumiGraphics for the last eight years. He says the foil-based media is ideal for a lot of the work Sole Images does because the product “vacuums” itself to the intended surface and adheres even more over time, appearing as though the image was painted on. In addition, it is fairly easy to remove. “Install and removal is important, even more than the actual physical media,” adds Weber.
It’s an educational challenge, according to Weber, to introduce the AlumiGraphics product—or any floor graphic media—to potential customers. “Building a business based on creativity and new opportunities in a world where people can’t conceptualize is a test,” admits Weber.
But Sole Images is up to the task. With the recent rebranding and a goal to double its workload in the next 12 months, the company is poised to succeed.
Importance of Removability
Established in 1971, Firehouse Image Center began as a 10,000 square foot full-service photo lab with a staff of 12. Today it considers itself a full-service digital print provider, employing 72 in a 40,000 square foot location.
Based in Indianapolis, IN, the PSP started offering floor graphics ten years ago. Initially, these type of jobs consisted of short-term photographic c-prints with low-tack adhesives and laminate. Now it works with General Formulation’s Concept 210 Traffic Graffic with Concept 109 laminate, which it sources from GPA.
“It’s excellent quality and economically priced, which allows us to pass on savings to our customers,” explains Trai Majors, VP of purchasing US/EU, Firehouse. Concept 210 Traffic Graffic also fulfills a lot of the requirements the Firehouse team looks for in a floor graphic material, including removability with no adverse side effects on the flooring and ease of install.
Many of the short-term floor graphics Firehouse produces are for trade show exhibitions and retail environments. Long-term floor graphics are requested by schools and businesses where their logos or graphics stay the same for an extended period of time.
For Majors, the biggest challenge with floor graphics is the install process. “High-quality installers need to improvise in the field in order to meet the demands of the sometimes quick install requirements,” he shares.
Newbie to Expert
Marco Soto, owner, Guardian Printing, began his business in 2011. Six years later he has six full-time employees and transformed the once copy center into a full-blown wide format shop. The PSP is based in La Habra, CA and offers its services throughout Orange County.
Starting to offer floor graphics in 2015, today it is considered about 40 percent of its work. Most of that 40 percent is considered short-term requests for trade events and promotional companies where the graphic will be up for a weekend and then quickly taken down.
Media choice is dependent on what its vendor, Gans, recommends. “We only use media that have been qualified by Gans. It does a phenomenal job at recommending the right materials every time. I was a complete newbie and it helped me with every application I could throw, without its help I would not be in the wide format arena,” admits Soto.
At the beginning of his floor graphics journey, Soto experienced issues lowering cost to be competitive against some of the bigger PSPs in the area. “We found some very unique and profitable materials from our guys at Gans and everything fell into place,” he shares. Soon work was rolling in and repeat orders were the norm.
Trends in floor graphics align with Soto’s top feature requests. He says more one-step solutions are coming to market, which is something he prefers to use in short-term applications. Also, he looks for an excellent removable adhesive and a nice grip texture that is UL slip resistant.
Found in what is a generally underutilized space, PSPs and their end customers should consider floor graphics for short-term marketing messages. Despite being used for a limited period of time, the media must offer durability, safety, and visual quality. It is a representation of the brand and should convey positivity while in place.
Oct2017, Digital Output