Marketers must accelerate efforts at point of purchase

Retailers and client companies should improve marketing strategies by enhancing communication with customers at point-of-purchase, according to industry pundits....

Retailers and client companies should improve marketing strategies by enhancing communication with customers at point-of-purchase, according to industry pundits.

In-Store Advertising Becomes a Measured Medium, a new five-year study conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Point-Of-Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) found that the cost-effectiveness of in-store advertising is comparable to that of either radio or outdoor. ‘We saw as much as a 65% increase in sales by the addition of in-store advertising,’ says Joseph Casper, VP of corporate affairs at POPAI. ‘The retail environment is an ad medium all on its own.’

Despite the fact that 75% of purchase decisions are made at POP, the study discovered that many chains have adopted ‘clean-floor’ policies, which disallow the use of signage.

As a result, marketers are missing out, says Casper, especially since 6,000 consumer impressions are generated by an in-store display in a supermarket over the span of one week. ‘This is a place where brand marketers and retailers ought to try to communicate with consumers,’ he says, adding that the integration of POP with other forms of advertising has also been largely neglected.

‘If you invest half-a-million dollars in radio, why let the effectiveness die when the spot has run its course?’ he asks. ‘Why not amplify messages in-store, and remind the consumer of what he or she has heard on the radio?’

Retail marketers haven’t made much progress with interactive kiosks either, says Brian Kalish, president and CEO of 18-month-old Toronto firm Neatt Corporation, which will institute systems in six Pharma Plus drugstores this summer. Most kiosks are hidden in vestibules or situated at point-of-sale, he explains, when in fact they would have much more impact at POP. ‘This is information consumers access as they make their purchase decision,’ he says. ‘They should be strategically located in the heaviest trafficked areas of the store, which are obviously those that matter most.’

Neatt’s touch screens enable patrons to research in-store specials and products, as well as facilitate dialogue with the retailer via a suggestion box, according to Kalish. With prices starting at $3,000 a month, advertisers can reach shoppers on the system through banners, sponsorship buttons or a 15-second full-motion video.

According to Graeme Griffith, president of HMG Griffith, a Toronto-based manufacturer of in-store displays, Canadian marketers, spurred on by increased competition, have begun to acknowledge the benefits of POP advertising. ‘The major trend today is the importance of designing specifically for individual stores,’ he explains. Griffith believes this development is driven by augmented pressure in the marketplace from chains like Wal-Mart, which has forced its foes to establish stronger in-store identities.

David Strickland, senior VP marketing for Zellers, says POP advertising is an important tool for mass merchandisers, who rely on posters to ‘up-sell’ the consumer. But the chain has also recently improved its efforts for conveying a promotional message in different departments. For instance, since moms who buy clothes also buy toys, the retailer will now institute signage for a Britney Spears action-figure sale near kids’ sneakers. ‘It’s all about moving the customer around the store,’ he says.

But Canadians still need to work on the quality of their POP, according to John Torella, a retail consultant with Toronto-based J.C. Williams Group. ‘Retailers lack any real insight on how signage aids and complements the shopping process,’ he says. ‘Instead of customers wandering haphazardly all over the place, a good POP program should inform them what they should be thinking about.’

Torella says Ikea has the right idea with its in-store presentation, which offers information and insight. In the past, for instance, the furniture store has highlighted the resilience of a chair by actually pounding it with a hammer. ‘Those displays are valuable because durability is an issue for young families.’