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11:57 AM   April 25, 2015
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Display Techniques

How to best take advantage of manufacturer-provided POP
By Alison Bour

Does your store’s interior look like Times Square or Tokyo’s Ginza? While an abundance of signage proves appealing to tourists, the same appearance in a pet store bothers customers enough to leave.

This trap occurs without many storeowners realizing it. Free POP signage comes pouring in so why not use all you can.

“All POP is effective used in the right context and setting,” said Jeff Baker, president of Canine Caviar Pet Foods Inc., a company based in Costa Mesa, Calif., that produces a full line of organic diets. “But the more successful stores are ones that set limits. You don’t want to end up like downtown Hong Kong.”

Baker said a risk/reward law exists. Too little POP and stores miss opportunities to educate; too much and messages get lost.

“It’s a fine line,” he added. “Sometimes less is more.”

Bill Schober, editorial director for In-Store Marketing Institute in Skokie, Ill., agreed.

Effective Use of POP

Most manufacturers offer free POP material but using every option may not be best, especially if it appears overwhelming. Here are some tips for using POP effectively:

  • Use POP in wide aisles so it does not interfere with customer comfort. Studies show when customers brush against each other it distracts them from buying.
  • Utilize original POP, avoiding that which mimics another manufacturer’s material.
  • Use POP to focus on aspects not found on packages or those that distinguish one brand from another like natural ingredients, indestructible toys and diets designed for sensitive stomachs.
  • Ensure store cleaning won’t damage POP.
  • Don’t use POP installed above or below eye level (except banners), or material with small print. 
  • Don’t block POP with signage or product. Don’t place items directly above or below POP displays.
“Retailers sometimes do more harm than good,” he said. “Customers get irritated if they find themselves navigating a lot of (POP).”

Schober warned against too much POP in narrow aisles because studies indicate nothing turns a customer off more than merely brushing against another.

Does this mean pet retail owners should tear down most POP? Not necessarily. Both Schober and Baker believe POP increase sales.

Baker emphasizes federal and state rules limit his company from advertising certain features on the package such as digestibility percentages and herbal ingredients. However, they allow these features on POP literature.

In many instances, POP provides quick assessments that distinguish brands.

“People simply won’t flip over every 30-pound bag of food,” said Baker.

In the case of blueberry-based treats for dogs, produced by Peaked Mountain Farm in Gedham, Maine, owners discovered sales increased in 90 percent of stores that added POP.

Gail VanWart, an owner, admits the farm—a family business dating to 1868—didn’t know the ins and outs of pet retail as they previously sold wholesale blueberries. When they observed their dog, Preshus routinely eating wild blueberries at harvest time, VanWart perfected recipes including bones and chews.

Then she created a package resembling a similar container as used for sales to people.

They proved a big hit at trade shows but sluggish sales in some stores followed, and the packaging initially failed overall. Some stores stacked it so consumers couldn’t identify its contents, while others stored it below eye level or sideways, which made matters worse.

“Cute containers work, but only if people know what the product is,” VanWart said. “When your product goes into a store you don’t always know how it will be displayed.”

VanWart launched a search for inexpensive printers and green packaging. She studied other POP to maintain originality. She even did the graphics herself, which included the word blueberry and a blue bone.

After using flat-shipped displays with a separate header that slides into pre-made slots, some stores doubled orders. Peaked Mountain Farm designed POP so it works on an end-cap counter, by the cash register or on a shelf.

“All stores should use POP material,” said Rick Billups, vice president of marketing and merchandizing for Jack’s Aquarium and Pets, a company with 27 stores in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. “Manufacturers are kind enough to put it together and it offers free advertising and marketing tools.”

Billups especially likes POP signage from Central Aquatics, which lists all items required to complete kits. However, he tends not to use shelf-talkers because Jack’s installs shelf-channel pricing. Billups uses customized options and modifies POP based on store design and goals.

Additionally, he stressed, “We can all learn something from the Walmarts of the world,” a company that successfully introduced a new logo through proper and consistent use of POP.

Baker believes all POP material—banners, floor and window decals and custom racks—work equally well when used right.

Speak Up!

With the advent of high-tech print technologies, manufacturers now offer POP to fit a store’s individual brand.

Customized materials include varying sizes and colors, high-end materials, installation techniques, educational videos and incorporating one’s logo. If manufacturer POP interferes with your store’s image, ask for another option.

Schober recommended avoiding POP to advertise line extensions, instead using it for new product introductions, noting condensed bullet points work best.

For some stores, any POP represents too much POP. Richard Shiu, owner of Best in Show, an upscale boutique store in San Francisco, believes POP works well in many stores but not his.

“We get a lot of POP sent to us and we just toss it,” said Shiu.

He notes there’s less than a one-percent chance he’ll ever use POP—even custom offerings. It ruins aesthetics he passionately protects.

Other stores find space constraints forbid manufacturer-supplied POP. Glenn Laborda, manager of Absolutely Fish in Clifton, New Jersey, runs his store in 5,000 square feet of space, including all operations.

“The dry goods area is shaped like an ‘L’ so no end caps work,” he said.

One manufacturer told Laborda to move his tanks to incorporate POP but he knew that represented a bad choice. He does use posters, and shelf-talkers that clip on wood, but hasn’t seen any customized POP right for his store.

“I’m the guy who wants to use it and just can’t fit it in,” he added. <HOME>

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