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Short-Term POP, Long-Term Impressions

Creative, Frequently Refreshed POP

By Kim Crowley

Print buyers require short-term point of purchase (POP) signage. Viewers are inundated with marketing messages and POP should be refreshed frequently to grab their attention. Applications vary widely to cover the entire consumer experience. POP is used constantly on store windows, floors, counters, banners, and shelf talkers to heighten brand awareness, highlight new products, add drama, direct customers, and mask interior flaws.

“People’s attention spans are shorter. They’re always looking for something new,” confesses Gregory Carlin, national sales manager, print division, Transilwrap Company, Inc.

Seasonal Stretches
Gas stations, convenience stores, fast-food chains, grocery stores, retailers, and movie theaters are a few of the industries consistently using short-term graphics. Campaigns center around holidays, seasons, and sporting events such as the Superbowl, NASCAR, the World Series, or NCAA March Madness.

For example, “jewelry retailers target window graphic advertising around Valentine’s Day and year-end holidays,” explains Judy Bellah, public relations manager, Clear Focus Imaging, Inc.

Short-term POP is in high demand in the seasonal retail market, agrees Joseph N. Masters, graphic display marketing and sustainability manager, Alcan Composites USA. “Product brands heavily utilized during one season—such as self-tanning products during the Summer—are often promoted with short-term signage and displays,” he adds.

POP graphics are rotated more frequently thanks to fast print turnarounds. New print capabilities and better finishing techniques allow retailers to change out graphics at a faster rate. According to Jay LoCicero, sales director, U.S. and Canada, Ultraflex Systems, Inc., “clothing retailers went from four turns per year to eight or ten, because of relatively low cost and fast turnaround time in production.”

Conversely, short-term POP use was stretched out over the past year due to the economy. “We noticed a trend where projects previously displayed for six months were in place much longer,” states Lisa Humrich, marketing product analyst, Oracal USA.

In fact, some retailers reduced the frequency of new graphics, as well as the amount of signage in store. “Much of the focus shifted from navigation and toppers and moved to winning the customer within the last three feet,” explains Rod Sides, principal, retail consulting practice, Deloitte Services LLP. The consulting and advisory firm’s new benchmarking study, released in February 2010, quantifies store operations, branding, and administrative cost-improvement opportunities in retail.

Spot On Graphix, a division of Duncan-Parnell, Inc., is a print service provider (PSP) celebrating over 60 years serving clients throughout NC and SC. The majority of POP the company completes spends less than a year in the field. “People are trying to get more bang for their buck. They are hesitant to spend money to print something only once,” shares David O’Neal, digital color specialist, Spot On Graphix.

Supply and Demand
Short-term graphics often bring extra challenges to the entire print workflow—from design to installation. “Printers producing short runs quickly win the business. Expectations are high. Advertisers want to see the campaign run immediately and get the results needed in test markets,” advises Ken Kisner, president, INX Digital International Co.

PSPs that service large accounts face challenges after printing. Jeffrey Nelson, marketing manager, digital equipment, Fujifilm Sericol U.S.A., Inc., explains demands such as kitting an order and quickly delivering specific numbers of each piece to different locations in multiple versions.

“Customers look for quick turnaround,” shares Tony Morrone, president, Signco Inc. The Melrose Park, IL-based shop produces some projects the same day an order is received. They credit their equipment, an :Anapurna M4f industrial inkjet printer from Agfa Graphics and media from Coroplast, for giving them this ability.

Expectations on cost and quality remain high no matter how long graphics are displayed in the field. “Retailers expect to pay less because the life of the graphic is shorter, but are not willing to sacrifice the quality,” says Molly Waters, strategic support manager, Avery Graphics.

“In this economic climate, budgets are approved and changes occur at the last minute. As a result PSPs must respond quickly. This means manufacturers need a product available for immediate shipment,” notes Mike Richardson, director of sales/marketing, print media, Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc.

Graphic Systems, Inc. of Minneapolis, MN is a full-service, national provider of large format digital printing. The company keeps an inventory of numerous banner stands, “to help alleviate conflict with any short turnarounds,” notes Cathy Campbell, solutions provider, Graphic Systems.

POP Production
PSPs turn to a varied group of large format printers and complementary finishing devices to produce POP—from narrow vinyl print-and-cut devices to grand format flatbeds. Print production speed is essential to meet quick turnarounds.

Some PSPs utilize the Rho series of printers from Durst Image Technology US LLC. “The Durst Rho product line proves itself in situations that require burst-capacity printing because of their ability to print at very high speeds without a loss in quality,” notes Chris Howard, VP of marketing and sales, Durst.

The Inca Onset S70 and S20 UV flatbeds distributed by Fujifilm Sericol are ideal for producing short- to medium-size print runs, at a low cost, with quick turnaround. Also the Uvistar UV roll printers print POP quality on rigid and roll media at fast print speeds. The inks and curing systems for both the Onset and Uvistar lines provide a gloss finish.

The Solara ion cationic UV flatbed printer series from Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. (GSP) features GerberCAT inks and a Cold Fire Cure process to print directly onto a huge array of materials, including heat-sensitive and paper substrates. “The flexibility of GerberCAT inks is perfect for POP projects that bend or fold,” says Lisa Walsh, public relations specialist, GSP.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) offers a variety of large format flatbed solutions. For mid-size shops, the HP Scitex FB950 printer offers POP displays for close viewing. The printer produces multiple sheets or copies simultaneously. The HP Scitex FB7500 printer features the highest productivity in its price class and is ideal for printing medium and long runs of POP on a tight schedule and in high-paced environments.

INX Digital wide format printers are perfect for short-term POP production because they print on demand quickly and efficiently. The company’s Triangle brand of inkjet ink is designed with high speed and high resolution in mind.

For soft signage POP applications, Mimaki USA, Inc.’s JV5-320 DS dye-sublimation (dye-sub) grand format 128-inch printer, priced at approximately $120,000, offers high speeds, throughput, and sharp image quality. Mimaki introduces a second dye-sub printer, the TX400-1800D, at the April 2010 ISA trade show in Orlando, FL.

Media for POP
Short-term POP utilizes film and vinyl to fabric and rigid board. Substrate choice is often based on length of display time and price. Soft signage is perceived highly in settings such as retail, cosmetic departments, and automobile showrooms, and is used frequently for short term. “I don’t think soft signage is very different from vinyl in the sense that approximately 75 percent of soft signage is up less than 90 days,” shares Steve Urmano, marketing director, Mimaki.

Mary Ann L. Kucera, product marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products, points to three basic requirements for short-term work; versatile media, availability of media, and a product that processes easily.

3M Graphics Market Center’s Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3 is one of the company’s most popular films. 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ35 vinyl with permanent adhesive or 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ35C with air release channels are as well. For window applications, 3M Scotchcal Perforated Window Film IJ66 features thick construction and an increased print area. “It gives end users maximized exterior promotion space without compromising the experience,” states Tracy Bonvino Black, promotional products business manager, 3M.

Alcan offers a range of graphic display boards to meet price and value needs. Fome-Cor offers three-dimensional effects and pillowed edges through die cutting and embossing fabrication techniques.

Avery recommends Avery MPI 2611 Wall Film, because it is easy to install. The company also offers two new films with air egress channels—Avery MPI 2903 Gloss Permanent and Avery MPI 2923 Matte Permanent, which feature high opacity.

Clear Focus produces PosterVue, a non-adhesive perforated window film mounted to the interior or exterior of glass doors and windows. It features an approximate 65/35 perf pattern—65 percent print surface—and 1.5 millimeter holes designed for optimum image resolution and visual impact while retaining visibility from inside. ImageVue is an exterior-mount product. Its aqueous inkjet-compatible version is referred to as ImageJetVue.

FLEXcon’s FLEXmark floor art is engineered to resist tearing, abrasion, and cleaning. It also has inherent removability up to 180 days after installation. Also, the company’s shelf-ART system is designed to decorate a variety of retail shelving.

MACtac supplies media, laminates, and mounting films to the graphics industry. IMAGin B-free bubble-free digital media, such as JT5829BFDMQ, is used in short-term applications. Permacolor PermaFlex PF6400 overlaminate for floor graphics is ASTM C-1028 rated for slip resistance.

Oracal offers Orajet 3551RA High Performance Inkjet Media with RapidAir Technology, Orajet 3268 Movable Wall Graphics Inkjet Media, and Orajet 3628 Low Tack Wall and Window Graphics Inkjet Media.

Transilwrap’s biodegradable styrene and PRO-Print products are considered environmentally friendly. PRO-Print is an extruded, mineral-filled polypropylene sheet, often used in menus and small card-size applications. The company’s Azuna three-dimensional recyclable clear polypropylene is another popular product used in conjunction with digital printers.

Ultraflex provides UltraCarpet Extra for short-term floor graphics, SuperSmooth Blockout and Double-Side Smooth blockout banner for signage and roll-up banner stands, and Ultravision 60/40 window film for storefront graphics. A UV-printable version of Ultravision window film is expected to launch soon.

Short-Term POP
Effective POP brands a store, calls attention to new products and promotions, adds special effects, hides construction, directs the customer, and drives sales. To keep the consumer engaged, POP needs to be creative and refreshed frequently. Short-term POP brings challenges, but the rewards can be great.

Apr2010, Digital Output

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