If you don’t think it pays to advertise and promote, think again. Despite continued high unemployment and uncertainty about job growth prospects in the US, the retail industry is projected to grow by 3.4 percent this year to over $2.5 trillion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Fragile economy or not, Americans spare little expense when it comes to being festive. Collectively, we dropped $7 billion on Halloween last year and another $6 billion on Christmas decorations. Overall 2011 holiday sales beat expectations, rising four percent to nearly $472 billion.
If the first quarter is any indication, there will be no slowdown for the remainder of 2012. The average person celebrating Valentine’s Day, for example, spent some $125, up 8.5 percent over last year—and the highest in 10 years, NRF reported. (Total spending for hopeful romantics: nearly $18 billion.) And don’t forget Super Bowl XLVI: related spending averaged $63.87 per adult viewer, up from $59.33 in 2011. When tallied, money spent on parties and related merchandise reached $11 billion, said the Point of Purchase Association International (POPAI), the global association for marketing at retail.
Virtually anyone with a product to sell—retail stores, supermarkets, banks, car dealers, restaurants—can benefit from POS and POP displays. Myriad statistics reveal that more than 70 percent of decisions about whether to buy something are made at the point of purchase. According to one UC Berkley study, customers are six times more likely to buy a product if a POP display highlights it.
The print medium, including traditional cardboard signage, plays a leading role in these numbers. HP estimates the global sign and display industry to be a 6.2 billion-square-meter market, with retail/POP accounting for more than 60 percent of it—and growing about 15 percent per year. “Of that 3.8 billion square meters, only 15 percent is [printed] digital,” said Harel Ifhar, HP Scitex marketing director. “The potential for growth is huge.”
Printed POP Still Pops, Tops
Social media is all the rage these days. Online printer moo.com recently offered free business cards to attendees of the SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive show in Austin, TX, where some 30,000 show-goers gathered last month. But social actually represents a relatively small sliver of the marketing spending pie. To be sure, there are technological threats from electronic signage (Burger King’s in-store menu boards are no longer printed) and digital, especially mobile. Last September, the In-Store Marketing Institute changed its name to the Path to Purchase Marketing Institute, reflecting the broadening of its member base beyond its original POP focus. It now includes search, social, mobile, direct, events, couponing, and other marketing-related companies, explained Peter Hoyt, executive director/CEO of the Skokie, IL-based organization, which also publishes Shopper Marketing magazine.
Nonetheless, POP advertising still is huge in print. The most basic POP display is a sign, but options range from mobiles, easel cards, and life-size stand-ups to movie displays, floor graphics, decals, banners, and everything in between. As 7-Eleven convenience stores nationwide add chicken empanadas, mini beef tacos, and beer-infused bratwursts to their menus this spring, traditional POP print signage will be a big part of the chain’s marketing efforts to spread the message to hungry snackers.
More popular than ever, customized POP are printed products that target consumer’s specific buying trends at the point of their purchase. To help determine what they should be printing, some customers are heeding the advice of Ivy League professors at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, which published a research report, “From Point of Purchase to Path to Purchase: How Pre-shopping Factors Drive Unplanned Buying,” last year.