About 15 years ago, after dining alone at a small restaurant in Southern China, I walked on to a busy city street and noticed a young woman sitting beside a green cast iron trash can. She was holding a sleeping baby in one arm while reaching into the trash can to grab kernels of rice with the other hand. She was eating the rice, a few kernels at a time. She was not begging and made no effort to establish eye contact with any of the hundreds of people passing by. After watching her for a couple minutes, I walk up to her and handed her a 100 RMB bill- about $13. She looked at me with astonishment, took the bill, and went back to digging through the filthy trash can in search of random kernels of rice. I have seen a lot during my 50+ trips to China, but for some reason that experience stands out in a way that is hard to forget. Maybe it was witnessing such a dehumanizing act of desperation. Maybe it was wondering what would become of the woman’s baby. For whatever reason, this experience triggered a strong emotional response within me and stood out from everything else I had observed on that warm summer evening. Welcome to today’s blog which is about standing out, or more specifically, how to make your retail POP display stand out.
It has become incredibly challenging to make standout branding and POP displays in crowded retail environments populated by busy and distracted shoppers who have increasingly short attention spans. Here are 10 tips to make your retail display and brand stand out:
- Eye-Catching, Vibrant Colors– In the same way that our eyes are drawn to the splendor of a brilliant orange sunset, our brains are wired to notice bright colors that stand out. Retail POP displays like the Sunderstorm Kanha counter display with its intricate laser-cut pattern and its collage of radiant colors, the slightly more subdued color combination of the Bare Republic header sign, and the energetic collage of colors on the display we made for Flex Watches are all examples of how color can be used to capture shopper attention.
- Clear, Inspirational, Story-Telling Messaging– Words matter. Hone your messaging so it is concise, crisp, and clear. Every product has a story. Tell it. Inspirational messaging will set your product or display apart from competitors who drone on about their product’s features and benefits. The Vuori wall shown below is just one example of how the right messaging can create a positive mindset among shoppers while also elevating the brand.
Effective messaging considers the emotional needs and the perspective of the target audience rather than coming at it from an internal perspective. The blind man below had only moderate success with the typical “I’m blind. Please help me.” messaging.
With the help of a stranger, he revised his messaging to “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” The new messaging created an emotional connection with the people walking by and enabled them to better understand and imagine the man’s plight. The money started pouring in.
- Graphics that Create Emotional Connection– You know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” As with messaging, powerful imagery can help your brand stand out in a crowded retail environment. Using another Vuori example, it’s hard not to notice the gravity-defying pose held by the guy below, once again reinforcing the active lifestyle associated with Vuori’s performance apparel.
- Unique Designs– Designs that are unique and create an element of surprise are much more likely to stand out from the host of everyday displays that are all too common in today’s retail stores. The Woodbridge wine display we made for Constellation Brands is an example of a unique merchandising approach that also creates an element of surprise, which makes it more memorable. After all, who would expect to see a staircase in a grocery store?
- Display Location– Another way your display can stand out is by its placement or location within a store. Everyone knows that prime retail real estate is by the cash register since it is easy to get noticed by anyone checking out. But there are other ways to play the location game. For example, Ouhlala’s BuddyFruits brand was having a difficult time competing on the gondola shelves with the deep-pocketed big consumer brands so we created the wood dump bin shown below which was placed in the grocery store produce section apart from all of its primary competitors. The result? Shoppers noticed and sales jumped significantly, particularly impulse sales.
- Secondary Placement– Having your brand located in more than one place in a store is known as secondary placement. Secondary placement can help your brand stand out because shoppers are twice as likely to notice your brand if it appears in two places in a store instead of just one. In addition, it creates an opportunity for cognitive pattern recognition which helps our brain process visual cues while reinforcing memory. Tieman’s experienced an impressive overall sales lift when they maintained their inline product position in the coffee and tea aisle at Sprouts but added our freestanding floor display adjacent to the bulk foods aisle.
- Lighting– A fairly obvious approach to getting your product noticed is by adding lighting much like we did in the Club Nirvana mall kiosk shown below. Not only does lighting make your product easier to see and to notice, but lighted products stand out relative to the majority of retail products that are not illuminated.
- Interactivity– Building interactivity into your display is a well-documented approach to create shopper engagement. Inviting shoppers to be hands on with your product is a great way of hooking shoppers and converting them to customers. The Bluesound tabletop display we made below enables shoppers to engage on multiple levels: (1) They can push a button and listen to a music track. (2) They can watch a video. (3) They can pick up a brochure and read about the product.
- Premium Design and Construction– Just like it is hard not to notice a beautifully maintained luxury car, a display that features a sleek design and superior craftsmanship is likely to stand out from many of the lower and mid-range displays that populate retail stores. The Riedel premium glassware display that went into Macy’s stores is one example of a simple but premium display that we made out of glossy black acrylic with direct printed graphics.
- Offer Value– Finally, we all know that everyone loves a deal so standing out by offering a discount or creating an irresistible promotional offer is a time-tested strategy for getting shopper attention. Window signs like the ones we made for Brixton can help to drive foot traffic and attract bargain-hunting shoppers.
Rising above the noise and standing out from the competition are prerequisites for sales growth and brand building. Being intentional about getting noticed requires careful thought, planning, and execution, but the results will speak for themselves.
Jim Hollen is the owner and President of RICH LTD. (www.richltd.com), a 35+ year-old California-based point-of-purchase display, retail store fixture, and merchandising solutions firm which has been named among the Top 50 U.S. POP display companies for 9 consecutive years. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and graduate of Stanford Business School, Jim has served more than 3000 brands and retailers over more than 20 years and has authored nearly 500 blogs and e-Books on a wide range of topics related to POP displays, store fixtures, and retail merchandising.
Jim has been to China more than 50 times and has worked directly with more than 30 factories in Asia across a broad range of material categories, including metal, wood, acrylic, injection molded and vacuum formed plastic, corrugated, glass, LED lighting, digital media player, and more. He also oversees RICH LTD.’s domestic manufacturing operation and has experience manufacturing, sourcing, and importing from numerous Asian countries as well as Vietnam and Mexico.
His experience working with brands and retailers spans more than 25 industries such as food and beverage, apparel, consumer electronics, cosmetics/beauty, sporting goods, automotive, pet, gifts and souvenirs, toys, wine and spirits, home improvement, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, consumer products, mass market retail, specialty retail, convenience stores, and numerous other product/retailer categories.