Impact, seduction or relationship

IMPACT, SEDUCTION OR RELATIONSHIP? Some trends for in-store displays

It’s no laughing matter. A vast amount of non-academic literature states categorically that most of the shopping decisions take place in the store.

Barbara Grondin (1) claims that 50% to 70% of shoppers are influenced by at least one of the different in-store media: posters, displays, hangers on the shelves, stoppers, etc.

Millward Brown (2) mentions that around 70% of brand decisions are made in the shop.

Jeff Froud, Strategic Planning Director at OgilvyAction (3) points out that 72,4% of visitors in a shop take at least one of these decisions:

  • What amount to purchase (52%)
  • What brand to choose (39%)
  • Whether they purchase a new category they hadn’t considered before (29%)
  • Whether they leave empty-handed (13%)

The shop impact may vary depending on: the kind of product (going shopping -for leisure- is different from doing the grocery shopping -as a chore-), the customer context (for instance, when they just received their wage), or the personal profiles. Without a doubt, the impact will also differ according to the visitor experience the shop has prepared. This aspect is usually overlooked in many studies.

In any case, regardless of the numbers, what happens in the shop is of foremost importance.  Amancio Ortega (Inditex) already pointed this out: “The store is the best way to build a brand”.

The relevance of in-store displays
Displays are one of the top means to boost sales in the shops. Their relevance is such, that Liderpack grants awards to the very best every year in Spain. They come in all sorts, shapes, assembly systems, finishes…

And their purpose is multiple:

  • To impact visitors by making them aware of something that otherwise would be ignored.
  • To persuade them to buy something unplanned for.
  • To achieve a cross-sell: buy this, along with that, too.
  • To achieve an upsell, that is to say, elevate the product level of what the buyer intended to purchase originally: choose this (and more expensive) option.

On the whole, the aim of displays is to sell more, here and now.

Who could be drawn by such goals?
It’s not a fool’s question. One would answer head-on that both the shop and the supplier have an interest.

However, most of the displays submitted to the yearly Liderpack Awards belong to suppliers, who are very interested in promoting their brand in third-party shops.

The smart retail company (the chain) isn’t very keen on selling supplier-branded products… nor those of its own brand. What it really is eager about is selling the shop, or in other words, that buyers choose their shop over any other.

The best chains aren’t concerned so much about the average sale per receipt as they are about their customers’ frequent return. There’s mathematical evidence to back this statement. In the supermarket advertising of Aqui é, the company advised their shoppers to buy more frequently instead of too much, because their groceries would then be fresher, healthier, more flavoursome and in consequence, they wouldn’t go to waste.

When customers decide to do their shopping in a given chain, they select a product with a very big packaging: the shop. Inside this shop-packaging there are other smaller packs: the sections (with more or less appeal). Within this section-packaging there’s another smaller one, called shelf. Finally, the tiniest of them all is the item’s own packaging, what we colloquially know as product.

When customers reach this point, they have already gone through the three mentioned packagings, all of them chain-branded. It is easy to understand the implicit power of the own brand, when not using the ideological concept of private label. And it is also easy to grasp why more and more suppliers choose to sell directly to consumers, i.e. to be in retailing.

Until such a strategic decision isn’t embraced, companies opt for B plans, such as:

  • Shop in shop, just like those of Roca in some of their dealers’ stores.
  • Areas with atmosphere, like the ice-cream shops that Unilever has set up in collaboration with some chains.
  • The use of posters, or even better, displays, because they can include the products.


In-store display trends
I believe we shall see the following trends in displays:

  • Sustainability should be something considered upfront, right from the briefing stage. Whatever is temporary must contemplate its recyclability, for there is only one planet.
  • They must be attractive in order to break the customer’s lack of attention, which in turn is a consequence of today’s hyper-stimulative way of living. Nonetheless, shouting louder is no longer the right path. The word impact has a suspicious undertone; It would be much better to attract, stimulate and seduce instead. It would also be convenient that shops weren’t visually polluted by displays. When a rowdy store is put in order, and its assortment is arranged in relation to a semantic sequence of customer-oriented criteria, the turnover increases around 7%, according to my experience in several cases.
  • Make customers interact with the display. One way would be through mental interaction via story-telling, in which customers get carried away if their imagination is properly stimulated. Thus, they co-create the message and adapt it to their taste. A second way could be through a multi-sensorial physical interaction like the Sony display, for example, that won the 2010 Award. The visitors could try any of the photo cameras on exhibit and once they did, an interactive screen would come up with product information. Customers could then choose to expand whatever info they required.
  • Because of the human nature, communication is bidirectional, but today only a minority of displays allow visitors to get in touch with the company, for example, by giving their opinion or suggestions or similar. In this respect, many museums are one step ahead of everyone else, for they offer visitors the possibility to write about their experience in guestbooks when leaving. What customers say to other customers is much more convincing than what a company can publicise about itself. If the brand is good, it needs to persuade less and can work more on facilitating customer interaction through different platforms.
  • In my opinion, an in-store connection with someone at a distance is another growing trend. Through the display and via internet, customers can ask for help, information or advice. If half of the Spaniards already use smartphones, why can’t a shop display be connected to the internet?
  • A display with these afore mentioned features could easily be turned into a market research tool, developed in real-time, which could provide insights on what the public likes about a product or doesn’t understand about it -and of course, this would be done without having to ask anything to the person who’s experimenting with an exhibited product.
  • All in all, the display can facilitate the sort of shopping process that people do now: just like with cars or carpets, their experience often starts on the internet and ends in the store. Sometimes, customers are in the store and check something via their phone’s internet, with the possibility of finishing their shopping at home and online. This multi-stage vision of the buying process (by fusing online and offline) will prompt a great degree of innovation in retail.

Where will the purchase decisions be made?
Given that barriers between the digital and the physical have nearly disappeared in customers’ eyes, it would be sound to create displays that could merge:

  • Presence + distance
  • Functional information + boosting imagination
  • Bidirectional communication (from/to shoppers)
  • Understanding of what aspects of the product really attract the customer.

From now on, the decisions shall be made in both types of shops: molecular and digital. Shall the percentage of shopping decisions made in-store become one day an urban legend?


Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Código 84, (Burbujas de Oxígeno)

nº 165
July-August 2012