By Olivia Cahoon
An extension of wallcoverings, decals are increasingly used in display and point of purchase (POP) for advertising, promotional materials, wayfinding, and accenting larger vinyl graphics. In this space, a variety of industries like airports, gas stations, and retail use digitally printed wall decals for the ability to match existing décor and create custom graphics.
Before printing a decal, print service providers (PSPs) should consider media selection, adhesive technology, and installation requirements. Once the ideal media and installation method is established, print providers can focus on differentiating themselves from the market so price isn’t the only consideration.
Above: LifeTime removable ASLAN DFP 40 self-adhesive film is suitable for a variety of surfaces
Growing in Popularity
Digitally printed wall decals in both large and small formats are increasingly popular in the display and POP space. With the ability to customize, wall decals provide versatility and help retailers and brands connect with their shoppers.
“Brand designers look for creative ways to take advantage of display space. Wall graphics/decals provide a canvas to reinforce the brand, to bring a brand element to life, and create an experience for the shopper,” shares Jodi Sawyer, market development manager, FLEXcon.
Currently, 90 percent of shopping—worth $1.6 trillion—is still conducted offline. As a result, retail and display space needs continue to evolve as shoppers’ purchasing styles and preferences evolve. Further, Sawyer says stores and malls are increasingly becoming places to linger, socialize, and learn. “Brand loyalty programs abound, and wall decals in a store can bring that VIP experience to life.”
In today’s competitive retail market, it is integral to connect socially and locally with customers. To differentiate themselves in the display and POP space, brand owners look to PSPs for custom printed graphics that convey a message. “Custom wall graphics and decals that pick up on the local scene convey the brand’s commitment and connection to the community,” adds Sawyer.
Wall decals are not only impactful in terms of advertising and décor, but also in cost effectiveness, ease installation, versatility for a variety of surfaces, and wide format capabilities. According to Clay Reierson, director of operations, Xcel Products, Inc., decals are temporary short-term graphics with a one to three month lifespan and don’t leave residue or damage—ideal for brief, intermittent campaigns. The graphics also don’t require any frames or accessories—just a blank wall.
Most decals are digitally printed for small runs. Variable data is printed with ease and less cost compared to traditional printing methods. “Digital printing technology has improved by leaps and bounds,” comments Reierson. “The quality of the print, color gamut, speed, and cost of digital printing is hard to beat, even in larger runs.”
Digitally printing wall decals allows brands to easily create new environments, adds Matt Buckley, business development director, wide format market, GPA. Depending on the material selected, he says graphics are updated frequently to complement weekly and monthly promotions, or remain fixed for longer periods to serve as environmental graphics and décor. “They let companies and brands create dynamic graphics that are easily changed with each new promotion.”
Industries in Need
Wall decals serve a variety of customers and industries within the display and POP space, including advertising, airports, amusement parks, arcades, churches, corporate businesses, gas stations, museums, retail, restaurants, stadiums, and universities.
These industries use digitally printed wall decals for the ability to match existing décor in terms of design and color and to create a completely different atmosphere, shares Renee Kruit, product manager and wide format business development specialist, Kernow Coatings.
Decals are exceptionally popular in the retail and hospitality management industry, such as hotels, restaurants, and convention centers. Here, Kruit says the wall customization and decoration market is much wider with numerous companies customizing meeting rooms, providing seasonal décor changes, and advertising promotional materials.
“Wall decals convey information about the product or service that’s being provided,” agrees Sawyer. Decals and wayfinding signs are also integral for convenience store markets with beverage and food self-service areas. In this setting, the graphic ensures customers quickly and easily find where each product and service is. “With the emerging trend of self-service stores, wall decals play an important role in brand promotion and conveying information to the shopper.”
Before digitally printing wall decals, PSPs should be aware of the media they intend to use as well as the installation and price requirements.
Media selection is an integral part of the wall decal printing process. Without the correct type, the decal will not adhere properly to the wall’s surface.
René Bourgeois, key account manager, ASLAN, Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG, believes it’s important to use easily removable films that don’t leave behind adhesive or damage the wall. He recommends high-quality, self-adhesive films that are advertised as removable. It also helps if the film is compatible with a variety of wall surfaces, such as concrete, glass, paint, wallpaper, or wood.
To avoid further challenges, PSPs should clearly understand the application and ensure the material can adhere to the wall. “There is no clear guarantee for any substrate to stick on all walls,” comments Kruit. “It becomes even tougher when it comes to removable wall decals.”
Once the substrate is carefully selected, the walls are ready to be covered and PSPs can focus on the various installation methods. It’s important that the installation is a successful, challenge-free process while the price is beneficial to all involved parties.
In addition, who is handling the graphic installation—a professional or a store employee—needs to be identified. If a store employee, print providers should consider how easy it is to install the graphic, shares Michael Richardson, business development manager, media specialist, Jessup Manufacturing Company.
This includes understanding surface type. Employees and professional installers should determine if the wall is properly painted and had sufficient time to properly outgas as low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint can make adhesion difficult. “Some paints such as low or no VOC paints do not allow certain adhesives to adhere,” he adds.
For this reason, it is important the print provider can ensure that the media is compatible with the wall’s surface and paint. For example, the chemicals that make many premium paints ink- and stain-resistant can interact negatively with the wall media’s adhesive, points out Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles and consumable supplies, Roland DGA Corporation.
“Be aware that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to wall decal media,” she explains. Certain types of media work better with specific wall and paint types. “Most often, this has a lot to do with the interaction between the chemicals,” continues Hunter.
According to Joey Heiob, technical service representative, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, a smooth wall might only require an economical calendared film while a low VOC or textured wall requires a stronger, more permanent cast film. Setting a price per square foot is also important before starting a decal job to ensure that the cost is favorable for both the PSP and customer.
Onsite evaluations and adhesion tests conducted by the PSP help determine the media’s suitability and allow for an installation assessment, comments Lawrence Delesio, business development manager, DAF Products Inc.
While cost is important, it isn’t the only consideration print buyers take into account before selecting a print provider. A variety of methods and tactics help PSPs differentiate themselves from competing wall decal providers.
“Offering the substrate with the least amount of cost is not always the best option,” admits Bill Hewitt, marketing manager, Yupo Corporation. Not all substrates produce the same results and not all are easily applied and may require a professional. Additionally, he says many options—especially inexpensive ones—don’t last the required display time.
For example, static-based materials can lose their charge. “Choose wisely and know all the options out there. Substrates that offer micro-suction technology are glue- and adhesive-free,” adds Hewitt.
PSPs differentiate themselves from the competition by blending wall decals in with other digitally printed applications for a cohesive presentation. “Run a floor graphic that blends straight into the wall or window, or a textured graphic that blends into chalkboard graphics,” comments Steve Yarbrough, product support specialist, Drytac.
Providing wall decals with different finishes is equally important because it gives users a chance to better personalize a message, comments Matt Meyer, marketing, Plastiprint. Going beyond traditional films and media is also helpful, like the use of magnetic-receptive graphic systems. According to Meyer, these systems are easier to install and remove for the end user. “Keeping the message fresh is made easier with the magnetic graphic system.”
Installation methods help PSPs stand out in the market. For those in need of short-term wall decals, PSPs need to ensure consumers know how easy it is to install and remove graphics, while also showing customers how to do so, shares Cory Jones, associate product manager, SEAL & GBC Wide Format Products.
“Whether a PSP is selling to a business owner or someone responsible for wall displays and graphics across many stores, promoting how most anyone can install the media will make sure your product seems more user friendly. Recommending, using, and selling the right media for the job will aid the PSP in coming out on top,” he offers.
Decals for Display & POP
From boutique businesses to big box retailers, a variety of display and POP industries request wall decals to cost-effectively promote product announcements and special promotions. For a successful application, it’s the print providers responsibility to effectively communicate with clients and determine the proper media, installation techniques, and wall requirements. PSPs can also stand out from the competition by offering specialty finishes and quick turnaround to their customers.
Apr2019, Digital Output