Pop into the space age

In-store campaigns are often accused of creating clutter, but by adapting content and using new technology, advertisers can still get their message across and take up less room.

We live in a small, overcrowded country where space is at a premium. What has that got to do with point of purchase? Well, this lack of space dictates the size and layout of retail stores and compared to, for example, the US, shops here are much smaller.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a recent survey of 575 stores found that lack of space in the retail environment is the number one reason that PoP is not put out in store.

The survey, conducted by Bezier during July and August, discovered that 40% of store staff said lack of room in store was a real problem, up from 38% last year.

With limited space, one of the priorities for store managers is to minimise clutter and keep the shop as clean as possible with more outlets adopting clear floor policies.

This leaves point of sale with a problem. According to Helen Davies, head of research and consultancy at Bezier the figures “suggest that almost 20% of PoP spend is literally being skipped”.

Floor Thinking
She says: “Clear floor policies are something brands should consider when designing in-store campaigns brands need to take the time to research and explore design and media alternatives to maximise compliance and return on their PoP.”

Although the research shows that 20% of PoP is being wasted, it is still less than in the past because store managers, for whatever reason, have become much more diligent about installing point of sale material.

However, head of retail at Arc UK, Caroline Wilde, says this new trend towards compliance is leading to clutter in store. “A policy of ‘one-size- fits-all’ material means that small Tesco stores are being sent the same material as the larger outlets. For those stores that may have lower ceilings and narrower aisles, this doesn’t work,” she adds.

Wilde says the only way to solve this problem is to develop micro point of sale campaigns. In other words, tailored work coming out of the central agency based on proper information fed to the agency by the manufacturer.

But this message has yet to sink in. With inappropriateness of materials being cited as a significant reason for not displaying work, there seems to be a problem earlier up the chain.

Wilde says: “A local audit of requirements needs to be made for each campaign. It’s not that difficult to develop different messages for different outlets.”

The increasing pressure on PoP to be a sales driver and the desire by retailers to cut down on paper-based products, means that high-tech approaches are being embraced.

The most high profile of these has been Tesco TV but it has been met with limited success. According to Wilde, Tesco TV did not attract as much advertising as it wanted to and research shows that customers find the intrusion irritating.

NeoMedia chief operating officer Martin Copus is gearing up for the launch of a product called Qode. Consumers use the camera on their mobile phone or PDA to click on a 2-D smartcode printed on the point of sale material. This takes them to the marketer’s mobile internet site where they could be offered instant coupons, value-added promotions or product information.

Copus says: “Qode allows consumers to interact on an opt-in basis. This is particularly valuable with the food industry, which is under huge pressure from governments to provide maximum information to consumers – and there is limited space on-pack.”

But it remains to be seen how many people are prepared to factor this interactive process into a tense trip to the supermarket.

TrolleyVision is another innovation that seeks to influence shoppers at what Julian Barrans, executive general manager and chief marketing officer at in-store specialist SAS, calls “that critical 35- to 40-minutes shopping journey when brand choices are made”.

The concept uses screens on the trolley and, according to Barrans, research shows shoppers view the messages around 20 times during an average shopping journey.

But despite the problems that come with paper-based point-of-sale material, there is still a feeling that technology will only ever be a part of the mix. Managing director of Fold7, Simon Packer, says: “Retail is and should stay a very tactile environment, a place where you can touch, see and experience brands and their products.

“In-store TV and touch screens are becoming increasingly common place, but I wonder how much time a consumer has to sit, watch and interact with such material.”

Hi-tech Challenge
Beswick Design head of client development Adam Todd says: “It’s difficult to provide a hi-tech solution that covers a wide customer demographic.

“Hi-tech PoP can work well and can be brand building, but it is expensive, has to be spot on and usually requires a greater time commitment from the customer.”

Whatever route manufacturers choose with their PoP, one of the main weaknesses seems to be a lack of budget or commitment to enable the implementation of micro campaigns. Barrans says: “The power of the retail arena as the new mass communication channel will gain more interest from marketers if a higher level of professionalism can be brought to PoP tools in terms of compliance of implementation and measurement of sales uplift.”

But it is the marketers who should realise the power of the retail arena and commit people and budgets to raising the standards and effectiveness of PoP tools.

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