When the Video Goes Black

Posted by William Tichenor on Jul 29, 2014 2:17:00 PM

       By William Tichenor

spyder

     Whenever I go into a store I notice subtle nuances that probably most consumers don’t. Maybe aftermore than a decade in the POP display and retail industry it has become a reflex. Several weeks ago while at a home improvement store, I came across a brand called Spyder that sold various attachments for a reciprocating saw. It was a nice looking floor display primarily made out of steel (fully welded but could have easily been knock-down), a die-cut header sign, and a video screen. There was one major problem: the video was not playing.

Upon closer inspection, the power cord was tucked under the base and it was nowhere near a power source! I found a power outlet about two isles down and then proceed to drag the 60 lb. display screeching across the concrete floor (to my surprise no store employees noticed or said anything to me). I plugged the display in, found the remote tucked inside the header, and turned on the video. After a two minute hard sales pitch form a Billy Mays imposter, I had seen enough and returned the video player back to its original state. The experience brought to light three primary issues that I have encountered in the POP display industry: (1) know your retailer (2) AC outlets vs. batteries and (3) fast communication to a consumer.

Let’s consider for a moment that I am the lead marketer at Spyder. I have invested time and money in a retail display with both the physical construction and the video production. I want to make sure that the retailers I send this to will plug it in and put it in a place where it will be noticed. This is the most difficult task because every store layout is different, and every store manager has different priorities. In the process of bringing a floor display into the store it needs to be specifically detailed that this program has a place in the store’s POG and that a power source is available. For whatever reason, this particular floor display was not a priority at this location.

 I have heard many times, “I would like a video monitor but don’t have access to power.” In most cases, the answer is that the video needs to be discarded and an alternative marketing method should be used. Batteries are large, expensive, and cumbersome. The shelf life is a month or two. Ultimately, the battery will die, and nobody will go into a store and replace it. Some video players have rechargeable batteries, but here again nobody will go into store and recharge them. Yes, you can have video with a simple “push and play”, but again you are limited by video length and current draw by the monitor. As lithium-ion batteries evolve maybe one day it will be practical, but in 2014 it is just not an option in most cases. A video monitor is likely to be a $100+ investment which equates to about 1/3 of the total display budget. For that level of financial commitment, it must be effective!

The Spyder video production was professionally produced, but the message was far too long (just over two minutes). The vast majority of people entering home improvement stores are there for a particular need. The video should be 25-30 seconds long in order to stimulate an impulse purchase. The product itself had a wide range of designs and applications which may not have been intuitive to some shoppers. I do agree with Spyder’s approach that a certain level of product education was required.

 In closing, the point-of-purchase display I reviewed was well made and looked great. The product was well organized and was well branded. However, It failed to educate me about the product because of the simple fact that the monitor was non-functional. Are there alternatives to a monitor? In this particular case I may have looked into a QR code for a URL. Most people have smart phones and a simple YouTube video would be quick and easy. Another idea would be a simple header sign that easily conveys what the product does, “cut, scrape, sand”. These three categories could have been easily color coded for ease of shopping. If I am interested in a cutting blade, I simply look down to the package that tells me more about the project. In this case, the encounter is brief, my decision is reached, and the sale is made.

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