Marketers constantly strive to make sure that PoP displays reflect the technological advances in the products they promote, but they must still remain relevant and accessible. By David Benady
As products get cleverer, the techniques used to promote them in stores are also becoming more sophisticated. Brand owners trying to shift computer games, satellite navigation systems or the latest 3G mobile phones are looking for more impact than can be gained by simply sticking up a cardboard sign.
Display units, demonstration bays and digital signage are increasingly being employed to promote advanced electrical items to early adopters, in the belief that the products have to be merchandised in a way that is in tune with their technological sophistication.
But some question whether the costs of using highly-developed point-of-sale material is worth- while and suggest that tried and tested methods may be just as cost effective as hi-tech approaches.
One area of new technology that creates great challenges for in-store promotion is computer games, where new titles are constantly launching. Simon Packer, managing director of design consultancy Fold7, says that much more could be done to market games in stores. He gives the example of a game called Call of Duty 2 from Infinity Ward.
“In the store, you would never realise that little box on the shelf could deliver such a mind blowing experience,” says Packer. “But imagine if every time you took a copy off the shelf, it erupted into a cacophony of sound with artillery, machine gun fire and explosions. The case could vibrate and shake as if the content of the game was exploding to escape. It would certainly grab your attention and give an insight into the experience the game will deliver,” he adds.
Fold7 has also done work for mobile phone network Orange to back up its “Try” campaign. To demonstrate this offer in stores customers were asked to manoeuvre a metal ring around a wire spelling the word “Try”. If you touched the wire, a buzzer sounded. “It was a simple, engaging PoP that effectively communicated Orange’s offer. It was entertaining and acted as a great point of contact between staff and the customer, increasing take up of the offer,” says Packer.
However, some believe that providing too much of an enjoyable experience can backfire for brands and retailers. Brand Design managing director Tony Walton says: “One of the key issues is the need to present the product in a fun and informative way. But it has to work as PoP first – acting as a gaming station is not the priority.” He also points out that the PoP must be appropriate and avoid being overcomplicated.
Managing director of shopper agency Gekko, Daniel Todoro says it is rare for brands to really stand out from their rivals when it comes to store promotions, though he has noticed an increasing tendency for brands to compete with each other, and says people are trying to out-do each other. He warns: “An interactive unit is an amazing piece of PoP, but it is important to quantify the audience, the location and the return on investment. What type of consumers are you looking for? The location will determine who uses it. If no one uses it because it is in the wrong store and doesn’t appeal, then it becomes a waste.”
But all the expensive technology at the disposal of brands for promotions, such as display units, in-store screens and even TV screens fixed into the floor, may be less effective than tried and tested approaches.
Charles Kessler, sales director and deputy chairman of PoP firm Kesslers International says that whatever the product, the old rules of in-store marketing apply. “Whether you are dealing with a new product or a new category, the principles of selling remain faithful. It is a question of putting the product in their hands and making it accessible.”
It is certainly the case that the PoP has to reflect the nature of the product that it is promoting. In-store marketing specialist Bezier has created PoP marketing for ICI’s Flex, and Light and Space paint products. Martin Fawcett, creative director at Bezier, says the agency has attempted to convey the message of these brands in the PoP materials which include barkers, wobblers and headers. “ICI has built its brand on fresh, airy colours and simple design. We were keen to carry this through into the in-store marketing for the new products. Each piece of PoP reflects the quality and message of both the ‘Flex’ and ‘Light and Space’ product ranges,” he says.
So what about the more traditional methods of in-store promotion? Outdoor specialist Redbus has the exclusive rights to the advertising space on baskets and trolleys in Tesco, Somerfield and Sainsbury’s as well poster sites in student unions across the UK. If a brand wants to advertise on a shopping basket in a UK supermarket, Redbus says it is the only company that can sell the space – the likes of Unilever, MasterFoods and Visa have already used Redbus’ networks to target consumers.
Chief executive Antony Ceravolo says: “Simple and functional are the key words. These assets are in the hands of the shopper for the whole of their journey.”
Technology brands will always want to shout about their ground-breaking new products to grab shoppers’ attention, but in-store promotions are only the tip of the iceberg. It is the work carried out through above-the-line marketing and brand building that creates the main impulse for purchase.