Make your PoP marketing music to shoppers’ ears

Point-of-purchase advertising can be taken for granted, but it is a vital item in the marketing toolbox. Matthew Valentine speaks to a panel of experts about trends and developments.

The Panel (l-r below)

Nick Widdowson, range and merchandising manager, Unilever UK & Ireland
Martel Lawson, EMEA category display manager, McCormick Foods (maker of Schwartz)
Martin Kingdon, director general, POPAI UK & Ireland
Kate Drew, point-of-sale manager, Reckitt Benckiser

peer panel

Marketing Week (MW): How do you use point-of-purchase marketing?

Nick Widdowson: (NW) It has a varied role to play, from tactical promotional support providing visibility of new products, information and advice to shoppers, to creating strategic initiatives in-store. The role of PoP is to engage with the shopper throughout their journey, interrupt their routine and provide timely, appropriate communication of a relevant message, targeted at specific shopper groups.

Martel Lawson (ML): It plays a vital role in helping the shopper mission, as herbs and spices is a complex category. There are so many products yet people may only need one particular item for a recipe. So ease of navigation is a key driver for PoP for the Schwartz brand.

Kate Drew (KD): We use it to enhance our above-the-line communications and bring our brands to life in store. Our established brands are the strongest assets we have to attract and retain loyal customers. We try to guide the shopper to the products that are best for them. Our PoP often supports promotions in-store but we also focus on permanent solutions to gain incremental space, away from our main category fixture. Visibility on-shelf is key to driving sales if off-shelf space is unavailable.

MW: Can you provide recent examples?

KD: In 2010, Reckitt Benckiser acquired Scholl and Durex so we’ve given them a heavy focus in the business to ensure a smooth transition into our portfolio. One of our biggest successes in 2012 was landing the Scholl Footzone in the pharmacy sector. It helps shoppers find the footcare category, navigate the shelves and purchase the treatment that is right for them.

After lots of consumer research, it was apparent that clear product segmentation was key to making this work.

The launch of Air Wick Filter & Fresh was an important project for 2012 with a simple brief from the brand team: ensure consumers understand the technology behind the new product. The key to this was thinking of a way to engage shoppers at the fixture with the category, which is highly confusing. The solution was a shelf tray that housed a deconstructed dummy product so shoppers could touch and understand the concept.

Ease of navigation is key to McCormick’s PoP strategy

ML: We use ‘push feed carriages’ in all of the major multiple supermarkets as it helps retailers to identify off sales, aids shopper navigation and generally helps to make the category more appealing to shoppers.

MW: How do you ensure that the displays always look their best?

ML: Every company wants to make sure their brand provides a positive experience for shoppers every time. We employ a team of merchandisers to deliver products to store and set up promotional displays.

KD: It’s the small things that can make a big difference, so we approach the problem with a fresh way of thinking and include the customer [retailer] as much as possible – they too want better compliance.

Better labelling, named deliveries and employing field merchandising teams to implement the PoP on our behalf are the kinds of things we do. We also ‘transit test’ all of our displays prior to print to make sure they are practical as well as informative.

NW: We work with third party merchandising teams who discuss our concepts with store managers in advance. They do this to explain the objectives, gain acceptance at store level and agree an action plan. The teams also agree the position of the PoP in advance. As a result, we have seen compliance levels [among retailers] above the PoP industry average.

MW: Are there trends and developments that have affected how you use PoP?

NW: The single biggest trend we’re seeing is sustainability. For the past four years, we have been working closely with POPAI UK & Ireland to understand how we can improve our environmental performance at the point-of-purchase. This has led to the launch of the POPAI Sustainability Standard (PSS). The ConVert tool (a calculator to measure the environmental performance of PoP) also facilitates a better understanding of how re-engineering the way displays are designed, manufactured, implemented and recycled can provide performance improvements.

In one example, we were able to reduce the embedded carbon in a display unit by 56 per cent, as well as achieving weight reductions and cost savings. We are now reviewing choice of materials, especially for temporary shelf trays, which have traditionally been manufactured in plastic. When these are replaced with corrugated board, the levels of recycling can be dramatically increased, with little effect on quality of the in-store display.

Martin Kingdon (MK): When it comes to sustainability, brands are going far beyond the usual considerations, such as product packaging and considering the role of PoP. With so many displays in-store, most of which are put there for only a short period of time, the need for a straightforward measure of sustainability performance is clear.

KD: The biggest change I’ve seen is the amount of impulse units being used (such as clip-strips, gravity feeds and hanging units) across different categories.

In the current economic climate, people are shopping differently – they stick to lists and don’t impulsively treat themselves or their family as much as they used to. So using PoP in different places in-store makes shoppers notice your brand.

MW: How is new technology changing things?

NW: Over the past few years, we have seen the development of digital displays. These have brought new ways to communicate to the shopper but to date the success of digital has varied. What works well in fashion or electronics will work very differently in grocery.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are improving the speed of development and visualisation of what PoP will look like in-store without actually testing live units. From a shopper perspective, with a third of adults in the UK and almost half of teenagers owning a smartphone, we have a growing, receptive digital audience and this gives us incredibly powerful opportunities to interact with our shoppers.

This depends on creating content that is relevant to shoppers in-store as well as at home and on the move.

Scholl’s Footzone was a success because it helped people pick out the right treatment

MK: The lines between disciplines within the industry are rapidly changing. For example, digital can no longer be considered a standalone discipline. It has quickly moved away from a focus purely on complex screen networks with more permanent and even some temporary displays introducing digital elements – whether that’s a screen, moving imagery, mobile or social marketing within PoP units.

The trend towards multi-channel convergence is already becoming an issue for everyone connected with in-store marketing. Ultimately, the biggest challenge facing brand marketers – and one that many readily admit to – is the need to understand when and where new technology should be applied.

KD: We’ve seen really exciting developments recently. The smartphone has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for FMCG businesses. Augmented reality especially is an innovative way of engaging shoppers with not only your product or brand, but the whole in-store display.

I predict we will start to see a rise in the use of augmented reality within the next 12 months as consumers become more used to the technology.

However, the smartphone and the rise in digital investment can also be a negative thing for the PoP industry as more people use apps and the internet to browse, engage and shop. For now, in-store PoP remains an integral and vital part of any brand campaign.

MW: How can the industry improve in terms of the relationship between brands, retailers and suppliers?

KD: I’ve always been one to champion open communication between all parties. Where appropriate, I encourage suppliers to build their own relationships with the retailer’s PoP team. It ensures fewer mistakes are made, actions are completed quickly and the output is the best it can be while retaining a high return on investment.

ML: Retailers, brands and suppliers could work more collaboratively to ensure that we all maximise creativity and drive more sales while adhering to in-store constraints. Too often, a great creative idea has not been permitted in-store due to retailer constraints.

MW: Do you have any predictions about PoP for the next year?

NW: The economic climate has meant the shopper is reappraising the type of shopping trip they do, the stores at which they shop and what they buy. The store is one of the most visually complex environments and shoppers basically just need to find what they are looking for. PoP will continue to have a fundamental role.

Messages need to remain simple to have an effect. PoP will need to create simple visual signposts that help the shopper to navigate the store.

ML: Everyone knows we are in challenging times and that this will not change for a while, so I expect that 2013 will see a relaxing of retailer rules on in-store PoP in an effort to bring more ideas to life and ultimately drive more sales.

Brands, retailers and suppliers should also work together to continuously challenge and evolve these constraints to allow PoP to reflect the changing habits and requirements of shoppers.

Brands and retailers cannot merely rely on promotions but look to PoP to work harder in-store and deliver profitable sales.

PoP quiz for Iceland customers

Retailer Iceland is using PoP to gain customers’ insights, working with provider Empathica. In-store messages encourage shoppers to visit, where they can leave feedback about good examples of customer service or make suggestions about how standards can be improved.

Store employees receive recognition for positive feedback, says Iceland’s communications and store planning assistant Emily Firminger. “We’ve been running the PoP campaign since May this year. We started off with a ‘bus stop’ sign along our chilled cabinets. We still have a sticker at the till point and we also have a ‘Did we wow you?’ message on our receipts.”

Between its 16 May launch and 15 October the system had received 133,869 responses, exceeding the company’s challenge to its 770 stores to each get 30 responses per month, Iceland claims.

Online brands seek to grow PoP market share

Various figures put the value of the traditional PoP market at between £5bn and £7bn, says head of eBay Advertising UK Phuong Nguyen. “If online were to take its fair share of that, then we are talking about a fairly substantial opportunity,” he says.

Online point of purchase aims to replicate what in-store displays might do, showing shoppers relevant messages as they navigate the site.

But the online retailing sector is not getting a fair share of the point-of-purchase market, claims Nguyen, and that is partly because many ecommerce operations, having expended huge effort attracting visitors, are reluctant to let in PoP advertisers that aim to tempt them away again.

“We have made the observation that the reality of traffic to conversion is that, from an online perspective, most ecommerce sites should expect to convert only 10 per cent of their visitors into purchasers. You’ve got 90 per cent of your audience not converting, so what are you doing to monetise or enhance that proposition?” says Nguyen.

The media owner works with brands such as House of Fraser and BMW.

“We are trying to increase the overall monetisation of the site by having advertising running on the page. The notion of managing the cannibalisation of your own business is something that I feel eBay Advertising does fairly well, and it’s one of the key reasons why online retailers are so hesitant to adopt a point-of-purchase style marketing model en masse,” says Nguyen. He predicts that more online retailers will follow suit.

“This is how brands can connect their online activity with their offline activity in a much more sophisticated way, and really to apply the same principles they have been applying for decades from an offline point of view.”

BMW opened its BMW Direct eBay store in March 2011 and employed a targeted advertising campaign across all elements of the eBay ‘purchase funnel’.

This included a homepage takeover, and ads targeted by category and demographic – aimed at men aged 25 to 55. As a result, 21 per cent of visits and 36 per cent of customers at the BMW Direct store came from the eBay Advertising campaign, the online brand claims.

In addition, 44,000 of these customers have gone on to the parts and accessories section of BMW’s website.


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