I have been involved in retail investment, at some level, for over 35 years and you would expect that I have seen a significant amount of change during that time. Well clearly that is true, but there is one area that has not changed. Not one iota, not even a little bit. When it comes to investing in retail fixtures and Point of Purchase (POP) materials, the focus is always on the product to be sold or communicated and not on the shopper experience.

“It is accurate to say that the retail fixtures and POP industry still focuses on the product rather than the shopper experience.”

This industry behaves badly

Let’s consider the suppliers of retail fixtures and POP materials. Almost all of these companies provide a free “design service.” This design service is based on providing conceptual design ideas and concepts for the materials to be used. In almost every case, where there are a number of materials being developed, the only connecting element between them is the synergy of the design. May I ask, in how many cases have these designs been supported by a customer Purchase Decision Journey that defines the complete end-to-end retail store experience? An experience that starts outside the store and ends with the customer opening the packaging.

“When it comes to FREE design, if it looks too good to be true, it invariably is.”

The reality is that these companies only provide a free “design service” for one reason and one reason only and that is to secure the rights to production. These companies offer free designs to marketing to lock them into their material designs. In this way, the client is obligated to buy from them and procurement have no means of negotiating the best price. The result is that the supplier applies excessive margins.

So when an entire industry offers FREE design to secure production rights, do you really think that they truly understand the shopper and provide designs based on insights, understanding and science. Designs that are focused on the shopper experience. Or are these designs provided to suit their production ambitions?

What needs to change?

It is simple. The best designs are the ones where expertise is applied and where the focus is on the entire shopper experience. This doesn’t come free but then free isn’t really free at all. Why is this? Well all these costs (including all the design concepts and ideas that didn’t move forward) are all back loaded into the cost of manufacture and the client pays for that.

The end result. The client receives inferior design (with no shopper insights or science applied) and significantly more expensive materials.

“When it comes to procurement of retail investment materials, don’t subject yourself to the mentality of shopping in a bazaar.”

How to win

Here are some key principles to apply and if you do, you will be able to significantly transform the quality of your shopper marketing activities:

  • Work with your agency of record to translate the core brand proposition into a set of brand architecture guidelines that will support retail investment:
    • Product Philosophy – a set of beliefs concerning how brand related items should be conceived, designed, manufactured and delivered, and what benefits the customer derives from their usage
    • Design Language – an own-able approach to the presentation of brand related items that consistently and effectively communicate the brand, irrespective of the application of brand graphics
  • Start with the shopper and define the target audience, from a demographic perspective but also more importantly from a psychographic perspective so you understand their needs, motivations and expectations
  • For each market where you are investing, identify priority outlet types that are important to this shopper segment. It is important to identify the differences from one outlet type to another. You need to go deeper than a standard channel strategy. For instance, “convenience” stores are likely to have significant differences within a single channel
  • With your well-defined outlet type you then need to define the shopper Purchase Decision Journey (PDJ) from outside the store all the way through purchase and beyond. This will define the desired experience that will be delivered and all the individual touch points where your brand will connect with the individual across that journey
  • By placing yourself in the shoes of the shopper you can then identify what materials and services are required to deliver the appropriate experience. This needs to consider:
    • full omni-channel integration (how mobile will integrate with in-store experience)
    • retail insights and trends
    • retailer considerations (such as space available for stock/number of listings, ease of re-stocking, ease of dispensing and actual purchase process
    • competition, to ensure you can differentiate your offering and reinforce the identified brand attributes that with resonate the most with the desired customer
  • These materials can then be designed for the shopper whilst considering all other factors, rather than the other way around

Does this sound like something your existing suppliers are already providing you with?

Well, this is why we established LeanPie; to fundamentally change the way this industry behaves and for once to place the client and the shopper first and foremost. In this way you can deliver the best possible shopper experience whilst also reducing costs by 25% or more.

Author: Carlos Kassner

Industrial Designer by degree, with manufacturing blood and an engineer soul. Proud father and eager athlete.