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POP Strategies

Reaching Consumers with In-Store Signage

By Barbara Pellow

Almost every consumer has experienced an impulse buy. In fact, research shows that approximately 66 percent of all purchase decisions are made in the store. In addition, 53 percent of those in-store purchases are made on impulse.

According to a survey by Decision Analyst published by the In-Store Marketing Institute, in-store print/point-of-purchase (POP) info has the most influence on final purchasing decisions for consumer electronics. Television, print, and radio are cited fourth, fifth, and ninth respectively in terms of types of information that had influenced final purchasing decisions. In another survey, DoubleClick reports that 28 percent of respondents said seeing the product in the store had the most influence over their purchasing decision.

Marketers are revisiting POP strategies to capture more consumer dollars. The store is the last opportunity to reach consumers as they are shopping.

The Market Opportunity
InfoTrend, Inc. recently published a report entitled Integrated Point of Purchase: A Market Opportunity Assessment. The report indicates that the printed POP market was valued at $20.8 billion in the U.S. in 2006. While it is significantly behind other advertising media such as television, newspapers, and direct mail, it is the fastest growing. The existing research on consumer influences and media trends points to a strong POP advertising market in the coming years. InfoTrends projects that the total U.S. printed POP market will increase from $20.8 billion in 2006 to over $28.8 billion in 2011.

The POP market represents a great opportunity for graphic communications service providers. The nature of the business is to draw the attention of consumers, so POP materials are not necessarily conducive to printing on one type of equipment. It is also not feasible for a retail outlet to own the wide variety of printing and finishing equipment required to produce eye-catching POP materials. Retailers typically look to outsource printing for long runs and jobs that require creative finishing.

For service providers in search of the ideal vertical market, InfoTrends assessed a number of segments based on volumes, the number of locations, the number and quantity of POP materials used, and the number of large stores and establishments that were part of the franchise network. It appears that grocery stores, restaurant chains, banks, and apparel store chains are some of the best vertical segments.

Look Around
It is sometimes surprising to observe the amount of POP advertising and directional signage in the retail locations that you frequent every day. InfoTrends analysts actually visited some of your favorite locations to conduct store audits related to the number of marketing images we are exposed to in local restaurants and retail outlets.

A walk through a Dunkin’ Donuts shop located in a high-traffic area illustrates the magnitude of the opportunity for the aggressive graphic communications service provider. The store itself is configured with a large counter and a small eating area. The in-store signage is set up to take advantage of the flow of people by and through the store. There are three large—approximately 36x48-inch—two-sided posters hanging from the ceiling, low enough to be viewed through the windows promoting seasonal drinks and Dunkin’ Donuts food options. There was also a 3x8-foot grommetted vinyl banner at the drive through area promoting the same products. Other in-store signage included three 24x36-inch posters at the counter displayed to stimulate the appetites of patrons waiting to order. We also found an interesting stack of corrugated cardboard cubes, where each side of the cube had an 18x18-inch graphic promoting seasonal food and beverage items.

Ex-grocery store owner Max Hoyt started in the POP signage business because he knew the impact it had on sales. During the early days of hand-painted signage, Max states, "I could increase sales by as much as ten percent by changing the signage in the store." Max and Dianne Hoyt founded Pixus in 1992. At that time, the company was the first large format digital printer between Houston and Atlanta. Today, Pixus is the largest producer of tradeshow graphics in the Louisiana/

Arkansas/Mississippi region. Over 300 casinos and ad agencies across the country count on Pixus to supply them with next-day service for all their POP needs. Pixus also has a number of customers in the banking and food service sectors. The company employs 18 people and has annual revenues in excess of $2.5 million.

According to Max, "Our niche is next-day large format. 70 percent of what we produce is shipped FedEx the same day. Because of the impact that POP has on sales, turnaround is getting quicker and quicker and customers want to change graphics more frequently. Marketers know that sales go up if graphics change."

The firm constantly keeps up with ever changing technology to bring its customers the best possible large format printing. Pixus currently has six different large format printers producing photo-realistic vinyl banners, posters, adhesive graphics, backlits, die-cut standees, custom fabrics, and more.

When asked about where he sees the market heading, Max responds, "Marketers want to add more interest to signage. We are seeing more multi-dimensional requirements. Customers are also asking for ceiling hangers more frequently."

Max has three key recommendations for success. First, he says, "You need to feel their points of pain. I have walked in my customers’ shoes and can speak their language relative to business need." Max also focuses on staying up with technology so that he has the ability to deliver the best and most cost-effective solution. Finally, while Max has a direct sales model, he also has a strong Web presence. He states, "We focus on search engine optimization and it has been very effective for us. Once a customer has sent you a digital file, it is an addictive formula for quick turnaround. This has resulted in a high repeat order rate for us."

Dave Merrick started BIGraphic Inc in 1996. After being a product manager for a printing manufacturer, the headquarters for his employer relocated to San Francisco. Dave wanted to stay in the Northeast, so he needed to decide on his next career. He went to a Be Your Own Boss show in Boston. With his knowledge of printing, he decided to get into the large format market. His initial business concept was to put photos on canvas using large format technology and sell the product to photofinishers. He quickly realized that there was no demand and migrated into commercial POP applications.

Dave decided the best way to drive his business was through resellers. He started calling on printers and print brokers and networking with agencies and independent graphic designers. Today he serves both industrial and retail customers. From a POP perspective, Dave sees an increased focus on fabrics. They make uniquely-shaped banners that are easily assembled for exterior or interior use in high-traffic areas to bring immediate attention through colorful messages. The banners are weather-resistant, swing in the breeze, and can be printed on both sides to be read properly from any direction. Dave states, "In today’s market, it is about innovative methods for bringing attention to your promotions."

Marketing Plan
As mass media advertising loses its effectiveness, it is necessary to grab the consumer where he is making his purchasing decisions. Marketers understand this and are incorporating in-store marketing plans to help increase brand awareness, educate consumers on new products and technologies, and ultimately assist with increasing sales. It is important to understand the aspects that influence consumer purchasing decisions, and how to develop and implement the in-store marketing program with your clients. It means understanding the customer’s business, providing easy access, and having the right technologies to support them.

As the role of marketing changes, one thing will remain the same. POP will continue to drive sales.

Jul2007, Digital Output

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