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Sales of point-of-purchase ad materials grew 6% to $12.7 billion in 1996, according to the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute's annual study.

The study, unveiled last week at POPAI's Marketplace '97 trade show in New York, said those revenues rank POP as the fourth-largest ad medium, trailing only network TV, spot TV and newspapers.

POP's largest categories in 1996 were restaurants and foodservice, up 8% to $1.1 billion, and apparel and footwear, up 6% to $1 billion. The fastest-growing segments were fresh/frozen/refrigerated foods, up 15% to $296 million, and professional services, rising 14% to $621 million.

POP advertising is gaining in importance thanks largely to more research showing its effectiveness and a drive for efficiency among marketers, said convention attendees.


Marketers are getting better at measuring the effectiveness of POP advertising and quantifying the results, said David Schultz, VP-marketing at Tusco Display. He touted POP as cheaper and more effective than other vehicles, especially as print and broadcast media become more fragmented.

Douglas Leeds, chairman of Thomson-Leeds Co., said that in food buying -- where 88% of purchase decisions are made in-store -- the medium provides the last link in the brand-building chain.

"Up until that point, [brand building and advertising are] an academic exercise" said Tom Harris, president of POPAI's Australia and New Zealand chapter.

Large retailers such as K-Mart Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores are leading a trend toward micromarketing in POP, Mr. Leeds said.

In many cases, they're requiring displays be custom-made for their stores, he noted. For example, said Mike Lauber, past chairman of POPAI, Rubbermaid now creates custom displays for those two retail giants, which have entire

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