Retailers are using nearly every inch of the store for marketing messages, from splashy floor graphics to bold signs hanging from ceilings, to tout new products, special promotions and frequent-shopper discounts.
While marketing messages are showing up in all areas of the store, the delivery methods of these messages are also expanding.
For example, H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, will install 42-inch digital displays in 80 stores starting in the first quarter of 2000. These point-of-purchase digital displays are expected to transmit all types of messages to consumers, ranging from community news and in-store specials to product introductions and demonstrations.
Some retailers, such as K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va., are also turning to electronic shelf labels as a method for communicating with customers as they make their way through the aisles, employing ESLs to alert customers to frequent-shopper discounts and new items.
"Seventy percent of customers make their purchasing decisions while in the store, so it is extremely important for retailers to communicate their messages effectively in-store," said Tim Hawkes, president of Trade Zone, a marketing and consulting firm based in Westport, Conn.
One marketing message that has worked well at Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y., is bold floor graphics.
"I have watched customers look down and then look for the product on the shelf," said Jane N. Golub, manager of vendor co-op. In the past year of the program at Price Chopper, the floor ads for a number of manufacturers have appeared in the canned goods, dairy, cereal and perishables departments.
Price Chopper has also used the floor advertisements to tout its pricing guarantees, and these ads are placed in various areas of the store, Golub said.
"One thing that is telling is that whenever we have a major reset or remodel of a store, the store manager will call me to be sure the floor graphics have been reset as well," Golub said. "We believe this will continue to grow and is an effective means of communicating with our customers," she said.
While Price Chopper is using floor space to grab attention, T-Bones, an independent operator in Wexford, Pa., is using overhead display space for advertising and marketing messages.
The retailer has used an automated system for dispensing cigarettes that hangs overhead, and it uses the side of the machines for advertising and marketing messages.
"We're a 5,000-square-foot store, so space is at a premium," said Bob Sirera, co-owner. "The use of the automated dispensing machines has been two-fold. We've freed up space to expand our bakery department and we can use the space on the dispensing machine for advertisements and marketing messages," he said.