Retailers testing an advertising device installed in the floor tiles in stores say that it is stimulating sales in the dry grocery aisles.
The ad vehicle -- a 2-foot by 2-foot clear scratch-resistant plastic sheet that covers a four-color "magazine style" photographic advertisement -- appears in the floor at more than 100 supermarkets to date. The manufacturer expects it to be in about 400 by the end of the year.
The floor-tile advertisers include national-brand manufacturers and the retailers themselves. They can be found in units of Kroger Co. in its Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio, marketing areas. They are also being used in Fry's Food & Drug, Safeway and Bashas' Markets in the Phoenix market, and in Tom Thumb Food & Drugs and Minyard/Sack 'n Save units in Dallas.
The patented In-Floor Advertising Unit was created by the Indoor Media Group, based in Dallas, which negotiates with retailers to install the advertisements and with manufacturers to rent the ad space.
Indoor Media rents each see-through square to advertisers for $150 for a 12-week cycle. The participating retailer receives a commission off the rental; Indoor Media officials would not quote a range for the commissions, but said they are negotiated separately with each retailer and coincide with "average industry standard" commissions. The ads are rented on a category-exclusive basis in the stores.
Officials with several participating chains told SN consumer reaction so far has been positive, and the product ads boost sales even though they do not mention specific promotions or prices. Some are expanding the program to more stores.
Fry's began testing 13 of the units in one store last October and, based on the success of the
test, the chain is now rolling them out to all of its 48 stores in July, said Gina White, advertising manager for the Phoenix-based chain.
"We have really seen movement of the advertised products increase," White said, adding that both consumers and chain buyers and directors have reacted positively.
Bashas' installed the advertising tiles in one store about six months ago, "to see how it would look," Al Felix, director of advertising and promotions, told SN. "Everybody who looked at it, liked it and approved it, so we are going ahead with it and rolling it out to the rest of our stores," he said.
A source from Kroger Co.'s Atlanta division familiar with the project said that since January the advertising squares have been in all of the division's 126 stores, advertising products from a variety of national manufacturers, as well as Kroger private-label brands.
"Sales of featured items have gone up. We are interested in it because it moves the entire category, and our brand managers are very pleased with it," the Kroger representative said.
"The store managers like them because they are unobtrusive to stocking. It is new, and the customers like them because they are real eye-catching."
The Kroger source said that since the ads don't have prices, it is crucial that they display product usage as the message, and that the chain works closely with Indoor Media and the manufacturers to assure the ads do that.
The units are typically placed at the head of each aisle in participating stores, in the center tile. Each store also gets a 2-foot by 4-foot unit to place just inside the entrance, with a message of the retailer's choice.
"Our current message says 'Welcome to Fry's' and mentions that we honor credit cards, showing the symbols of the credit cards that we honor," said White of Fry's.