POP ups sales results

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The more in-store advertising, the better, according to new results from an ongoing study by Point of Purchase Advertising International and the Advertising Research Foundation.

POPAI this week will release data showing that multiple brand-oriented displays throughout a store increased sales in the cough and cold category by 35%.

"The opportunity to convey the branded message in-store is an opportunity that's overlooked. When it is utilized, there's an even greater jump in sales," said POPAI President Dick Blatt. "Seventy percent of the final purchase decision is made in the supermarket. What this research is identifying is the opportunity for multiple messages in-store."

The new results are part of a larger study launched by POPAI in the spring that aims to elevate in-store advertising to the status of measured media such as print, broadcast and outdoor by establishing proof of placement, cost effectiveness and sales impact. The study's first phase, conducted in 250 supermarkets nationwide for 94 brands, showed promising results for incremental sales increases as well as cost effectiveness-with average cost-per-thousand estimates of $6.50 for a POP display, according to Mr. Blatt. The biggest challenge, which will take several years to address, is proof of placement, or ensuring that marketers' in-store displays are executed at retail.

That's the "most fundamental difference between point-of-purchase advertising and print and broadcast, and why Madison Avenue's traditionally not understood it or utilized it, is proof of placement," Mr. Blatt said. Once agencies and marketers are guaranteed that in-store ads are actually being displayed-a process Mr. Blatt said requires time to develop the technology necessary to audit the medium-he believes marketers and agencies will increase POP dollars even more than they already have. POPAI estimates that $17 billion was spent on point-of-purchase advertising last year, up nearly 31% from $13 billion five years ago.

"Our clients last year spent 5% more on POP than they have in the past," said Mike Reuter, director-permanent merchandising at Omnicom Group's sales-promotion shop Integer Group, Lakewood, Colo. Despite POPAI's efforts, however, he does not think media buyers will view POP as they do other media. "I don't really believe that it's going to be bought like media; what we're trying to do is bring awareness to how impactful POP can be," Mr. Reuter said. "You're not going to have a media buyer call around to every mom-and-pop liquor store to get placement for an easel," he added. "I just don't see it happening."

But some media buyers say in-store advertising is already part of marketing strategies. "As TV seems to have lost some of its effectiveness in terms of clutter and fragmented audiences, advertisers are looking for other ways to attract consumers' attention," said Allen Banks, North American media director at Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.

Kevin Coyne, exec VP-director of media and new technologies at Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide, New York, agrees that the overcrowding, fragmentation and expense of traditional media make in-store advertising a compelling alternative. In the past, "[POP] was looked at as an extension of the overall selling process," he said. "What's happening over time is that this is evolving into a more strategic tool."

"As people get smarter and smarter about who their customers are, they start to understand more about what motivations their customers have and what really drives them to make decisions," he added. "[In-store advertising] plays a role in that overall mix."

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