Point of purchase campaigns suffer more than most from being lost in the crowd, because when your shelf-wobbler or poster is one of many in a supermarket heaving with stock, getting cut-through is a challenge.
So the suggestion that brands could increase sales or awareness by running PoP campaigns in stores where their products are not stocked comes as something of a surprise. The idea raises a number of questions, not least whether retailers would allow such a ploy. Another is whether consumers, who have to process so much information in store, could be expected to take on more information about other products and services at the same time.
Daniel Todaro, managing director of Gekko, says: “The value of PoP for brands to drive sales is clear, but there is huge competition for the space, and to clutter it with brand enhancement material is wasting valuable space.
“Store managers generally dislike PoP, but they understand that the right in-store promotion in the right position can drive sales. But advertising products that are not sold in the store will find little favour with store managers.”
But maybe there is an argument for advertising holiday deals, for example, at the checkout. Jonas Lembke, creative director at Craik Jones, says: “We are all conditioned to believe that we will see messages in a certain way and in a certain place. If you break those rules and get some attention, the brand will get a few more seconds from the consumer.
“In stores you expect to see buy-one-get-one-free offers, and it can only be good if someone comes along and says, ‘Actually you need a car to go with that’ – if it allows the connection to be made.”
But Nick Gray, managing director at retail design specialists Live & Breathe, says that if products are not on sale in the store, then the communication is advertising and not PoP.
He also confirms that grocery retailers are unlikely to allow unrelated advertising in store. “One of our top clients is a big grocery retailer and they say that efficiency of space, the limit of clutter and clean space is the most important thing to them. Any brand that isn’t a supplier couldn’t guarantee any return on investment.
“It’s all about branding. For example, you can now buy shelf-strip space in a large stationery store chain. So one could see shelf-edge space advertising a petrol brand by the car magazines. But, unless brand owners can really show the relevance, this type of advertising does end up looking desperate and crass,” says Gray.
Liana Dinghile, a consultant at Dragon, does see some logic in the idea. “The most obvious example of brands using PoP for products not strictly sold on premises would be retailers promoting their wider portfolio, like M&S Money or Tesco car insurance.
“This is logical because the consumer is in their environment and PoP provides targeted exposure to the breadth of their branded products and ventures.”
Dinghile also sees the link between holiday promotion and supermarket checkouts, and likens it to partnership marketing, where the campaigns are “as much about building and promoting an association with the media owner, for example the supermarket or fashion retailer, as it is about sales”.
Rich Bryson, director at Intelligent Marketing, says third-party partnerships are able to achieve strong brand awareness among a target audience without the usual competitor noise. “In these cluttered and saturated market times, brands are looking outside of their own store environment to grow brand equity.”
JC Decaux provides 400 poster sites at Tesco stores and, according to research done by the site provider, car advertisers are missing out on supermarket shoppers. The research identified opportunities for brands that are not traditional supermarket advertisers, but who could capitalise on the audiences delivered by supermarkets.
Spencer Berwin, managing director of sales at JC Decaux, says about a year ago the company approached Tesco’s database in a different way. “We started talking about a lifestyle that each Tesco store had, in terms of the characteristics of the shoppers who used it.”
Whether unrelated PoP material would really work in store is still an unknown. Mike Staines, head of retail at BMT, comments: “While any in-store activity may increase brand awareness, there is a real risk of contextual displacement and that the brand message will simply become lost in the general brand-wash we all suffer.
“The notion of producing PoP to increase branding opportunities smacks of increasing media sales opportunities, rather than product sales opportunities. It is an ill-conceived idea, one that is counterproductive, as it seemingly clutters the mind and confuses the flow of existing messages.”