Point of Purchase Design: What I Learned at CES

Like most of the rest of the world, I was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. Attending CES is basically like a high tech version of the Running of the Bulls. It’s a bit of a madhouse, but it’s worth it to see all the new cool technology that will change the way we live. Some of the technology products are clearly cases of technologies in search of problems (e.g., Do I really need a Smart Phone app that communicates with my waffle iron to tell me when my waffles are done? The little bell works just fine.). However, other technology products are solving real problems or adding value to our lives by helping us reclaim our time, like Laundroid, the world’s first laundry-folding robot. In today’s blog, I wanted to share a few thoughts about point of purchase design that jumped out at me during my time at CES.

  1. The Importance of Clear Messaging– There are thousands of exhibitors at CES and more than 170,000 attendees. It’s like a big consumer electronics store on steroids. Just like in a retail store, when you walk the aisles at CES you feel over-stimulated visually and you only have a few seconds to figure out what someone’s booth is all about. I was surprised at how poor the messaging was in many of the booths. I found myself wondering, for example, if the company provided an integrated “Smarter Home” solution or did they just make the software that powers smart homes? Some companies did not even have the name of their company anywhere in the booth. Others just had tall pillars with a couple of white couches and a coffee table.

I liked the booths that made it easy for me to quickly understand what they do: “World’s First Smart Urinal” or “Grill Cleaning Robot.” The same applies to retail displays. You only have a few seconds to capture the consumer’s attention so clear messaging is critical to a point-of-purchase display’s success.

  1. The Value of Customer Feedback– There are thousands of potential customers at CES so it is a great place to get feedback on your product or your POP display. I am always surprised at how focused people are on completing their product pitch without asking any qualifying questions or trying to understand what the prospect is looking for. I get it. CES is a crazy environment, and there’s really no time to engage in a lengthy diagnostic of customer needs. However, tradeshows or other events are great places to gather valuable customer feedback on your products. What do they like most about your product? How do they think it compares to similar products on the market? How do they react to the price? What unmet needs does your product address?

One of our customers had a POP prototype we had made for them in their booth. Octa makes a line of really cool accessories for tablets. They asked us to design the counter display shown below.

Consumer Electronic Show Point of Purchase design Disply for Octa ipad accessories

We made the display out of MDF with a black melamine finish and vinyl side graphics. The display included 3 acrylic shelves and a 10” digital media player with a motion sensor. Octa had a chance to discuss the display with retailers at the show and got valuable feedback on things like reducing the height and adding product descriptive graphics (both of which were issues we discussed during the design process).

  1. Focus on Differentiation– When you walk the floor at CES you see dozens and dozens of companies that seem to do the same thing, products that look alike, and sales pitches that sound eerily similar. I can’t tell you how many companies I saw that made cell phone cases, Virtual Reality products, drones, and wireless products.

In a retail setting, there might not be as many competitive products as you would find at CES, but it should be every company’s mantra to create the focus of a POP display not only on the product benefits but also on the key points of competitive differentiation. Since a consumer’s attention span is short, it is essential that these points of differentiation are brought into sharp focus for the shopper very quickly. What makes this product so good? Why should I buy this product rather than the many other products I could buy? These key points of differentiation tie in closely to the overall messaging platform discussed in number 1 above.

Finally, if you can find a way to show the customer how your product is differentiated rather than tell the customer, it will likely have greater impact. That means, whenever possible, design a POP display in which the shopper can touch, feel, and interact with your product.

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