The Science Behind In-Store Marketing And How Brands Can Respond

  • April 15, 2014 at 12:01 PM EDT
  • By Retail TouchPoints Team
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By Chris Souza, Marketing Manager, IZ-ON Media


“Don’t think about an elephant.”
 And now you’re thinking about a massive gray animal.

You could probably replace the word “elephant” with any other similarly evocative noun, and it will have the same effect. This simple phrase is indicative of the power and influence advertising campaigns and other marketing strategies can have on consumers almost without their conscious control. This outcome isn’t limited to just written words; it also applies to various colors, images and displays that have a profound impact on shoppers’ behavior.

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We’re not talking simply about impulse shopping, but looking at the ways in-store marketing influences behavior on a level that often goes unnoticed by the majority of shoppers. Delivering an effective strategy is largely based on research and data analysis, which brands can use to create dynamic and targeted experiences.

Influential In-Store Displays
From one perspective, brands have used end caps and floor stands to increase shopper awareness of specific products. Using traditional methods to gain consumers insights, brands have been able to get a better idea of ad recall and influence. According to Shopper Marketing magazine, the neuroscience behind in-store purchasing decisions demonstrates that various point-of-purchase displays play different roles in attracting consumers.

For example, eye-tracking technology and equipment that records neurological responses to visual stimulation confirm that end caps are effective at drawing shoppers into a specific product section. From here, consumers are better able to find items in stores. Yet, floor stands are somewhat disruptive on shoppers’ path to purchase. Instead of guiding them to products they had already considered purchasing, they tend to spur unplanned consideration of a brand or merchandise.

Point-of-Purchase Advertising International conducted a study that used the electrical signals generated by the brain to get a clearer idea of how shoppers respond emotionally to in-store displays. From its study, POPAI found 76% of shoppers were making purchasing decisions in retail locations, responding to brand advertising and in-store displays. The research also found consumers use displays as a point of reference for a product as they navigate supermarket aisles or a similar location. End caps tend to be the most effective in influencing shoppers to select an item, accounting for 44% of customers’ decisions to pick up the item from the shelf after looking at the display. Meanwhile, floor stands account for 37% of this behavior.

Video integrated with the static in-store resources that brands use can increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. One of our clients – a prominent candy brand – integrated a 15-second advertisement through our HDTV Network, which resulted in 33% ad recall and a 32% increase in customer intent to purchase.

Carefully Consider Colors
Most people associate the success of end caps, floor stands and other types of in-store displays with their location, but other variables like colors also play an important role in consumer behavior. In fact, Real Simple magazine explained that just 10 shades can have an impact on the way consumers approach products, promotions and other kinds of marketing materials.

The publication cautioned brands about using red because it tends to be associated with alarms and warnings. While this could get consumers to stop, the underlying message they receive might not be as inviting as the brand intended (this obviously doesn’t apply to established brands like Coca-Cola or Target). On the other hand, white often brings more positive connotations to mind: simplicity, integrity and a contemporary perspective. This may help to explain why 75% of skincare brands use this color, wrote Real Simple, as the basis of their product lines.

Blue is a herald for trust and confidence, which explains why financial enterprises use this color as their logo and marketing materials. Citing data from the Journal of Business ResearchReal Simple indicated customers are 15% more likely to return to a store that incorporates shades of blue instead of an alternative, such as orange. Then again, if a brand wants to target your appetite, yellow is often a go-to color for food products and restaurants.

Evaluate The Emotional Response
Just as colors can influence our emotions, our feelings and mindset affect the purchasing decisions we make, according to recent research released by the University of Miami School of Business Administration. Researchers found consumers who were feeling sad were less inclined to consume unhealthy foods, such as pizza, cakes and other snacks.

During the study, participants faced various positive advertisements and were also instructed to write about a topic that made them sad. Afterwards, researchers presented them with unhealthy foods, but people lessened their intake of these items, instead highlighting the negative health effects of consuming such products. Now, this certainly doesn’t mean brands that target health-conscious consumers should work hard to depress shoppers as they consider purchasing their products. However, the connection between emotional states and shopping behavior is incredibly important for brands to evaluate when developing their advertising campaigns.

There are many factors that contribute to the success of an in-store marketing campaign.  But if brands stick to the best practices gleaned from the science surrounding the industry and then bring out the brand in the creative execution they can count on success.

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