POP Displays and the Power of a Free Popsicle

Aside from the meta objective of driving maximum product sales, the aim of all POP displays should be to create memorable, defining moments for customers. Creating memorable customer moments is exceedingly difficult to do with online sales, but with the right POP display, brands and retailers can not only convert shoppers into customers, but more importantly, they can capture the hearts and minds of customers through these memorable, defining moments.

The Los Angeles area has a plethora of magnificent hotels. Among the top three hotels according to TripAdvisor are the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Be-Air, and the Peninsula Beverly Hills. TripAdvisor indicates that a room at any of these hotels for under $700 per night represents a “great value.” What’s interesting is the fourth name on the list is The Magic Castle Hotel. There you can get a room for $199, but TripAdvisor doesn’t identify that as a great rate. The Magic Castle Hotel is a converted two-story apartment complex that has been painted canary yellow and boasts a relatively large swimming pool.


How is it that this seemingly unremarkable hotel ranks fourth among the 355 hotels listed by TripAdvisor in the Los Angeles area? In their new book, The Power of Moments, brothers Chip and Dan Heath attribute it to the hotel’s ability to create “defining moments.” It is these moments, they argue, that create meaning in our lives and are the source of fond, lasting memories.

The Magic Castle Hotel creates one of those defining moments through its Popsicle Hotline. Hotel guests can dial one of the poolside red phones and be immediately connected to the “Popsicle Hotline.” They can request their favorite flavor popsicle, and moments later an employee with white gloves delivers it on a silver platter at no charge. This small defining moment costs the hotel very little but goes a long way in creating a pleasurable and memorable moment that helps to create a positive experience for the guest. It’s also the kind of thing that people talk about.


The Heath brothers identify different types of defining moments and provide lots of examples of defining moment creation opportunities. For example, when a customer calls her insurer after having a kid and buying a new SUV, there is a clear opportunity to create a moment of connection. Similarly, if a homeowner pays off his mortgage and a bank representative showed up at his house to present the deed and offer congratulations, think about how that would set the bank apart from all the other banks who simply charge an incremental fee for the deed transfer.

Most of the literature on customer experience is focused on creating “delight.” What’s reassuring is that not every moment in the customer’s experience needs to be perfect. You don’t have to be good at everything, but a concerted focus on creating special, memorable moments will help to create a positive overall experience for the customer.

Former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines Jan Carlson calls these popsicle moments “Moments of Truth.” Carlson wanted his employees to focus on the thousands of touchpoints with customers that happened every day. While it is unrealistic to expect to be able to create defining moments at every touchpoint, it would be reasonable to try to create memorable experiences at a couple of places along the way- like gate check-in or in the baggage claim experience.

In the face of increasing competition from online sales, retailers would be well served to focus creating defining moments for shoppers. The opportunities are virtually limitless. What if shoppers were greeted by an employee offering freshly baked cookies? How about installing a self-serve coffee kiosk that is free of charge? How cool would it be to offer a ten-minute chair massage for those worn-out Moms who spend their days putting their kids first? These are simple examples that do not have to be expensive but can go a long way in creating a memorable experience for shoppers.


For brands who seek to create defining moments through POP displays, the challenge is a bit more difficult. Part of the reason for that is “defining moments” are often fleeting in a busy and crowded retail environment with a lot of visual “noise.” The truth of the matter is most brands have seconds, not minutes, to capture a consumer’s attention. But, with an attractive and distinctive display with clear messaging it is certainly possible to capture shopper attention and mindshare.

Once you have the shopper’s attention, there are numerous ways to create a defining moment. Our experience suggests that defining moments are easier to create by making your POP display interactive. A cosmetic display featuring a built-in tester has a greater chance at creating a memorable moment for a woman who can see how she looks after applying your vegan eyeshadow. We tried to do just that with the beauty cart we designed for Robanda.

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Incorporating a play area to enable children to build their own cars and race them on the track might help to create a moment of delight for a Mom who is watching the creativity and excitement of her 5-year-old son. That moment simply cannot be created online. The toy car display we designed below with its fun colors and built-in race track is aimed at capturing memorable moments for kids and parents alike.


Interactive displays that provide an awesome user-controlled music listening experience have an excellent chance of creating a defining moment for music enthusiasts if properly executed. By the same token, high production-value videos can not only communicate important information about your product, but more importantly, they can create a vital emotional connection with a shopper which can form the basis for a defining moment. Our goal was to do just that with the Bluesound display we created below.


Our lives can be boiled down to a set of defining moments that create meaning for each of us individually. Surrender to the reality that not everything can be done perfectly and focus on creating a few special, defining moments for your customers.

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