Regardless of all the technical innovations, analog retail displays, i.e., physical display stands, continue to be an important sales promotion tool at the point of sale (POS). The benefit of displays is that they stand out from a variety of similarly presented products on the shelf. Their design has a crucial impact on sales results.
Whether it’s a shelf display, counter or floor display – displays provide additional space to grab the customer’s attention with the brand name, logo, and design. This type of product presentation is meant to have a communicative effect on potential consumers. The objective is to influence customers to make impulse purchasing decisions at the POS, instead of them just strictly buying the items on their grocery lists.
Encouraging consumers to buy with well-thought-out display designs
Next to a strategic POS placement and display size, the design is equally crucial to affect success. “We were able to show in store tests that, generally speaking, displays that are better liked by the target audience also sell more products,“ says Felix Horstmann, scientific assistant for the Chair of Marketing and Retail Management at the Philipps University of Marburg.
Displays are no longer special commodities. Horstmann adds that a unique design or the integration of moving elements can help to stand out from the crowd. Though caution is advised in this case. “Overstimulation and sensory overload in shoppers should be avoided. Bright flashes or high-pitched sounds tend to cause customers to avoid being near the display.“
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Communicating the brand essence
Brand manufacturers rely on brand recognition. Successful advertising efforts can make the target audience remember the brand. Dr. Steffen Egner, Managing Director of MediaAnalyzer, a market research company specialized in advertising effects, explains that advertising in print, TV and on the Internet arouse consumer needs. “It is imperative to then conjure up these needs at the POS and link them to your brand.“
Egner explains, “This brand association is primarily built through similarity.“ The brand essence can be communicated using the typical and ideally unmistakable stylistic elements of the brand such as colors, shapes, lettering, and logo. Non-visual elements like jingles from commercials, text contents, testimonials or brand ambassadors could also be helpful to accomplish this, adds Egner.
“From an advertising effect perspective, matching the design of all elements of the communication process with the brand style and advertising would, of course, be ideal,“ says Egner. “The more advertising and design elements at the POS resemble each other, the more the consumer’s mind will recall the concepts associated with the brand.“
“If the customer is guided by the narrated story along the entire shopper journey and able to associate it with a brand, it increases the likelihood of the customer reaching for the product on the display,“ adds Horstmann.
The use of displays for private label brands
Brands are not the only ones in a position to boost the sales of their products with displays. Retailers can also use this tool to promote their private label brands. Felix Horstmann suggests that full line retailers, in particular, should increasingly highlight their private label brands. The use of displays could add touchpoints between shoppers and private label brands. He explains that this applies to both entry level and premium private label brands.
“If the display features an item that is on sale and advertised in a flyer, the display primarily provides a logistical function,“ explains Horstmann. Product holding displays that can be strategically placed close to the POS generally lend themselves to this purpose.
Added purchase incentives using sales promotions
Display advertising and secondary retail displays can be used for various occasions, for example, to introduce a new product or sell a discontinued item as well as highlight special promotions, sale items or seasonal promotions.
When it comes to promotions, it’s important that the display design makes a clear reference to the occasion, says Horstmann. Dr. Ulrike Weichert, Public Relations Officer Nutrition and Health at Nestlé Deutschland AG also confirms that the design of the packaging and the display plays a major role, especially when it comes to seasonal goods. “Seasonal candy sales are driven by impulse because many purchase decisions are made in-store,“ explains Weichert.
Using examples of Nestlé products, Weichert explains the positive impact of purchase incentives: “We are especially successful in selling seasonal candy when these three aspects come together: gifting – i.e., the product makes a great gift –, an innovative variation of a popular product and an attractive packaging and display design.“ One example of this is the After Eight “Big Ben Advent Calendar“ display, which reflects its shape.
Knowing what works: Measuring the success of promotional displays
It is important to assess the effect of display advertising. The sales figures reveal whether the POS display has truly generated more sales. Horstmann explains, “Ideally, additional sales are not due to a seasonal or quantitative sales acceleration but are based on brand switching and new customers, who noticed the advertised item thanks to the display, purchased it and then stay loyal to the brand going forward.“
So to generate additional sales in the long term, the displays – combined with other measures – need to have a lasting impact. Horstmann criticizes that systematic reviews of results are not being conducted adequately in practice. ”Yet this is the only way to optimize future promotional activities.“
Better results through collaboration
Cohesive overall concepts that harmoniously blend design, placement and timing of promotional displays with all other marketing activities also offer the potential for optimization. Both Egner and Horstmann agree that this requires teamwork and collaboration across different areas.
Felix Horstmann thinks that in reality, it is far too rare that “manufacturers collaborate and retail companies are also being included in the design of corresponding integrated concepts.“ Dr. Steffen Egner criticizes that frequently there is also not enough communication within companies. He adds that especially the marketing department, which develops the communication strategy and the sales department, which supplies the POS, frequently get caught up in their own boundaries. “I think that this is the best long-term and substantial opportunity for improvement at the POS.”