POP displays can lift a product’s selling power and presence, writes
Point of purchase is the last chance saloon in the marketing chain. It
used to be that POP displays were employed simply as ‘we are here’ brand
and product reminders. Now they are seen as strategic tools, targeting
consumers with tailored messages and eye-catching designs and mechanics.
This is the result of retailers being more receptive to innovative
approaches and more willing to allow secondary displays which are not
constrained by having to fit to a shelf space.
‘Retailers in general are more positive about putting in place high
quality, specifically developed, strong eye-catching displays,’ confirms
Henry Coates, trade marketing controller for KP Foods.
Coates explains the reason for this shift. ‘POP is a critical part of
the mix for the retailer. It can lift the outlet out of run-of-the-mill
and present product categories more constructively to the shopper.’
He believes POP has a number of benefits. ‘Turnover, incremental value
to the category and added interest and excitement within the store - POP
can deliver all of these.’
There are good commercial reasons, too, for making secondary sites
available. ‘These invariably drive additional offtake,’ Coates says.
‘With appropriate and creative techniques, you can get payback on your
investment in a matter of weeks.’
Another opportunity for putting POP to good use comes when there is
major brand news, such as a product launch or promotional event.
‘Significant returns for both the retailer and the brand owner can be
achieved by investing in dressing and presenting that news or event at
the point- of-purchase,’ he observes.
POP may target specific consumer groups. However, he contends: ‘The
principal driver for POP development and design is the type of outlet
and, correspondingly, the sort of people who shop there.’
As well as supermarkets and shops, KP Foods pays attention to other
outlets. ‘We have developed uplifts by ensuring a quality presentation
of our crisps and snacks range in pubs,’ Coates explains.
‘Traditionally, crisps have always been stuffed behind the bar. By
taking a little bit of trouble to get a small presentation unit on the
back of the bar, we are getting increased distribution levels because
more outlets are recognising the value that this category can bring. We
have given pubs a mechanic for selling it.’
While agreements on POP have to be negotiated at head office with the
major multiples, Coates stresses: ‘If you haven’t also got the
involvement and support of local management, then you are not doing
your job properly.’
Cadbury’s point-of-purchase development manager Brian Pearson notes:
‘The nature of the promotion and the offer itself targets the particular
consumer. We try to make it interesting; to create that extra impact.’
Perhaps the future is to be seen in some of the cosmetics and fragrances
departments, where there is a move away from standard shelving and
counters to individual presentations. Virtually all major beauty brands
have tailored units for display and testing.
Stand-alone units are employed in other product categories and are
competing for floor space as well as shelf footing.
Pearson welcomes this trend.
‘People get bored with bland POP which looks the same every time they go
into the store. Shopping needs to be a pleasurable experience, ’ says
Secondary displays need to be durable. ‘You don’t put a flimsy cardboard
unit into a multiple grocer where it is going to get bashed by
trolleys,’ he points out. ‘At the same time, it must be as simple as
possible to erect.’
Security is a particular consideration in outlets such as mini-stores
and forecourt shops, where staffing may be limited to one or two at a
checkout. This calls for restricting the height of displays so that they
do not block the view across the store.
According to Pearson, the adversarial situation between the multiples’
own-brand products and other branded goods is on the wane. They are seen
as complementary, meeting consumer demand for choice. As a result, the
grocery groups are allowing greater scope with in-store promotion.
‘There has been an increase in the number of outlets willing to take
branded POP material,’ he says. ‘The power of the brand is becoming a
recognised asset within the store. We can develop POP hand-in-hand with
One way of standing out is by being the only product of its type in a
store. Mobile phones and services compete for attention in the
specialist shops but Mercury One-2-One had the audience to itself
through a deal with Sainsbury’s Homebase.
Large gondola end displays, designed and produced by NDI Display, were
set up in 64 Homebase outlets.
The benefits of mobile telephony for family use were explained by video,
graphics and text. Phones were displayed as complete service packages,
which the purchaser could simply take home and switch on.
‘Homebase customers are loyal consumers, relatively affluent and well
informed; they go to Homebase to look for ideas,’ explains One-2-One
retail marketing manager Salvatore d’Angelo. ‘This matches the profile
we were seeking. We wanted our service to be sold in an open environment
where consumers could see exactly what they were getting and the
benefits of it.’
At POP designer and manufacturer Kesslers International, marketing
director Charles Kessler says: ‘We have to satisfy the client, the store
and, most importantly, the consumer.’
This involves developing units and systems which meet the physical
specifications of stores, suit different types of outlet and
simultaneously, like the brands themselves, target socio-economic
groups, age and sex.
Some brands may have eccentric identities. Kesslers has been producing
display and testing units for the European launch of US cosmetics brand
Urban Decay. This post-grunge range of lipstick, eye shadow and nail
varnish has shades which include Rat Poison, Oil Slick and Bruise.
The design challenge was to produce a suitably gritty display. The end
product has such touches as graffiti and bare wire mesh. Kessler
describes the target as young people - not necessarily exclusively
female - who will use the cosmetics ‘as a statement of confidence’.
Kessler asserts: ‘POP is a strategic tool in several ways. It may
highlight a particular message of a limited life, or it may be units
which imply permanence, reliability and stability. It focuses on the
target group you are trying to reach, while meeting the stipulations of
individual stores in terms of dimensions, modularity or colour scheme.’
Neil Halford, sales director of POP company Artform International, says:
‘With many of the POP objects we are asked to design, we are briefed on
the target audience. We also look at the positioning of the product and
its advertising imagery, and try to reflect all of that.’
The ‘multi-strike’ concept is advanced by Howard Frost, consultant to
display unit producer CPI (UK). ‘Customers will work their way up the
scale of unawareness, awareness, liking, preference, conviction and
ultimately purchase if various promotional messages are targeted towards
them,’ he suggests.
‘Only POP offers this direct form of multi-strike message, from
customers repeatedly entering retail environments and becoming
knowledgeable about the product.’
He adds: ‘POP is the silent sales person and encourages customer
interaction with the product. It greatly assists a brand’s personality
and the impression it makes on the consumer - fashionable, lively,
conservative, reliable, fun, effective, or whatever.’
An example of the way in which POP can reflect above-the-line
advertising themes and strategies is given by Martin Law, chief
executive of Fords Design Group. This came with the relaunch of the
Peperami spicy meat snack, with its freaky animated sticks on TV.
A free-standing merchandiser was designed to appeal to youngsters, with
the strapline ‘Attack the snack before the snack attacks you’. Giving
movement, a battery-operated Peperami pack, chained to the stand,
wriggles and crinkles as if trying to escape.
There are mixed views about the array of electronic attention grabbers
which are now available. Artform’s Halford says: ‘There is a wide range
of technical wizardry we can put into displays. You can have proximity
sensing devices that talk, flash a message, play a video or animate a
computer screen. But despite a lot of interest, there has so far been
KP’s Coates points out: ‘Maintenance costs can be the killer. Imagine
having something that depends on batteries in a thousand outlets, which
is only dipping your toe in the water. Something that is simple, robust
and colourful can be more effective than complex gimmickry.’
Instead, new ideas from KP to be market tested next year will take
existing technologies in plastics and metals and be ‘applied in new
situations and different ways’.
Cadbury’s Pearson observes: ‘There have been advances in POP technology
which make it affordable and we are now looking more seriously at
electronics. I think we will see a growth in that type of display
Various ways of tackling the short attention span of children have been
devised. For instance, Tyco Matchbox had the problem that its boxed
model vehicles were lost on the retail shelves among the larger toys and
games. It briefed Oakley Young 4th Dimension, a point-of-purchase
specialist, to do something about this situation.
The result is a combined merchandiser, leaflet dispenser and storage
unit in the form of a bright yellow car and 6ft tall, which can be free-
standing or wall-mounted. It has a metal framework and sturdy panels to
withstand the strenuous attentions of children.
Another way of targeting the kiddie market is seen in Fords’ modular
shop-in-a-shop for Barbie dolls. These have been set up in Hamleys and
other toy stores. An important detail is that the merchandise and
visuals are set at a child’s eye-level rather than that of an adult.
The whole movement of POP is towards more imaginative promotion, which
should result in a livelier shopping environment. According to Evan
Ivey, planning director of Aspen Business Communication. ‘POP is where
you make that last impact when the final purchasing decision is being
This article was first published on Marketing