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The brand manager's guide to POS

Image via Unsplash.

There’s no denying the power of a strong brand. But where in the customer journey does a brand create the most impact?

In advertising? Occasionally. On the packaging? More often. On the shelf? Always. As the first point of contact for many customers, where and how a product is displayed at the point of sale should be a key consideration for brand managers.

So what do you need to know? Find out below, in the second of our quickstart guides for brand managers.

Why is POS so important?

It’s simple: in any supermarket or shop, all aisles are born equal: they’re blank canvases on which brands have to create a masterpiece to stand out. In any given store, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of brands jostling for space and for the chance to be noticed. What is it that makes one brand’s product stand out from the competition? The answer is twofold: it’s packaging design, and it’s merchandising choices.

The perfect package

For many consumers, merchandising is the first encounter with a brand: it’s the first step towards creating a brand experience. It doesn’t stop there, however: packaging extends that experience into their home, their office or wherever the product is consumed. 

For this reason, merchandising and packaging should be conceived, created and validated hand in hand: the two marry together to persuade consumers to choose your brand over others. Consumers make many of their brand decisions in-store rather than in advance, but won’t buy what they can’t see: a blend of well-conceived packaging and effective in-store merchandising can aid one brand’s success over its competition.

The in-store experience

Packaging plays a huge role in POS experience: it’s important that a product stands out – not only to grab the attention of consumers but also to persuade store merchandising teams to give it optimal shelf space. 

It’s important to know what matters the most to both customers and retailers: what are they looking for at the point of sale, and can your brand provide it? Will your product resonate with the ever-growing number of spontaneous shoppers, and will it stand out in a category with similar merchandising across the board, like Gunna in the soft drinks category?

Merchandising is not just about packaging, though: it’s about how your products are displayed on the shelf. Here, it’s important to understand current trends: knowing which product formats are most popular (sharing bags and multipacks currently outperform single bars in the chocolate category, for example). It’s about creating floor stickers, hanging ceiling or shelf signs, product sleeves offering competition entries. It’s about having separately branded displays to take your product off the shelf and ensure that it’s noticed on its own. Such tactics can draw in consumers and ensure that your brand stands out from the competition.

The effectiveness of POS

In 2013, point of purchase advertising association POPAI UK & Ireland published the results of their first ever Grocery Display Effectiveness Study, which demonstrated exactly why POS displays need to be considered so carefully. In a typical large UK supermarket, shoppers are faced with “approximately 20,000 items of display or promotional messages”, few of which are taken in: shopping is often conducted in autopilot mode. However, certain messages and display types can encourage them to switch to “manual control”, with the effectiveness of such displays varying by application, product and brand.

The findings show that marketers have an average of 0.9 seconds to convince shoppers to see their display, with point of purchase displays having maximum impact on shopping missions of 60+ minutes for women, and 50-60 minutes for men. 

When it comes to edible goods, the results of the study show that floor graphics and walk-around displays work best for purchases, while for those on emergency food shopping missions, premium displays with multiple components have the most success.

POS success

A successful point of sale display doesn’t need to involve vast spend on freestanding display units, floor graphics and in-store product demonstrations: a simple rework of existing options can have just as great an effect. 

In 2015, Fairy washing-up liquid won gold at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards for its new shelf-ready packaging. Designed for ease of stacking and display in discounter stores, the new SRP (shelf ready packaging) was designed as a disruptor to existing display solutions, but still with the required functionality. The new SRP was designed in a way to encourage discounters to create promotional displays of Fairy away from the shelves, making the brand stand out, and so that its iconic brand assets were clearly visible. This new point of sale display tactic increased Fairy’s sales across Europe by 4% and gave the brand in-store display space well beyond the level negotiated.

POS starts with great packaging

Where and how a product is displayed in-store has a huge effect on its success. While POS has a huge role to play in how well a product does, it’s important to remember that this all starts with great packaging – designed with the entire purchase journey in mind. The key is to understand what your target market is looking for, with research being a key element in the POS journey.


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