CHICAGO (FNS) -- Measuring the effectiveness of point-of-purchase advertising is becoming more of a scanner-driven science and less of an art, noted three executives working in this area.
"As retailers, few issues affect us as deeply as quantifying the impact of displays and promotions," said Mark Heckman, director of market research, Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, who moderated a panel discussion at the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute's recent convention here.
"Marsh is a high-low operator, so we are keenly interested in knowing what displays are doing and not doing for us," he added.
"Retailers don't have the budgets for this research, but we do have the theater for others to use," he said, referring to manufacturer and retailer partnerships in determining the impact of POP materials.
Bill Liebman, senior vice president and director of the retail intelligence division at Audits & Surveys, New York, described a recent study his firm conducted using scanner technology and stickers with UPC codes to evaluate the impact of displays for household batteries.
A special UPC sticker was printed for battery packages identifying the brand, size and display location in the store, and the stickers were placed over the preprinted bar codes on the packages.
Using this system, the company was able to determine which locations -- including in-line grocery, photo department, seasonal displays, permanent manufacturer displays and checkout displays -- were most effective.
The study concluded that the top locations for batteries sold were permanent manufacturer displays, at 26%; seasonal displays, 24%, and checkout, 14.7%, he said.
Michael Swisher, vice president of new product development at Efficient Marketing Services, Deerfield, Ill., described two methods to evaluate POP advertising effectiveness -- control store tests and baseline tests.
Control store tests use a matched panel of stores, each using a different form of POP advertising, plus control stores to determine display results. Such tests, Swisher said, are very accurate but are time consuming and costly.
Quicker results are available through baseline tests. For example, in-aisle coupon dispensers had produced strong sales gains for a number of products, including Coronet paper towels, up 11.9% from baseline expectations; Lipton tea bags, up 17%; Hamburger Helper, up 36.4%; Amore cat food, up 16.4%, and Reward dog food, up 36.3%.
In another test, with coupons dispensed at the checkstand, Maxwell House Lite coffee showed that in subsequent weeks only 10% of sales included the coupon, with little increase in sales over baseline expectations, he said.
In the future, Swisher predicted, POP materials will include evaluation as part of the program using data generated in the store, and such programs will be monitored during the promotion so the retailer can cut losses from an ineffective promotion or increase use of an effective one quickly.