The power of retail shelf advertising
How retail shelf advertising influences shopper decisions
So much information on how to advertise in retail points to TV and radio adverts, and the use of overhead signs and banners. Once a customer is inside a business, however, retailers need to try and drive them towards making more impulse purchases and increasing their basket value. While posters and banners can help to influence shoppers towards certain aisles and areas, shelf edge signs can act as a more targeted prompt, drawing the eye to more specific brands and promotions.
Our guide to retail shelf advertising explains how shoppers are influenced by shelf signs in-store, and offers advice on making the most of your retail shelf displays.
"Shelf talkers [...] have a high degree of influence"- Khan & Rahman (2015) .
What types of shelf advertising are there?
There are a range of shelf advertising methods to suit various shelf types and purposes. These include data strips, talkers and wobblers, among others - more on these later.
But, firstly, how exactly does shelf signage influence customers?
Numerous studies have shown how shelf signage affects consumer decision-making. Many of these studies have chosen to focus on how retailers can prompt buyers to make healthier choices, however, the findings of these studies can be applied to a wide range of POS scenarios.
Some of these have examined how shelf talkers can be used in pharmacies to promote screenings and other health related information, as a form of “passive social marketing intervention” .
Similarly, another study looked at how shelf signs in supermarkets can encourage healthy food choices. This 2012 study found that shelf signs “contributed to a higher quantity of green vegetables being purchased” . A 2015 study into consumers' in-store decisions found that people looked at products for longer when there was signage present .
These studies clearly demonstrate that the use of signage on shelving can affect consumer choices, and astute retailers should be using this knowledge to their advantage in order to boost sales and average order value.
"[Customers] gaze longer at the target products when a signage is placed on the front of the shelf"- Clement, Aastrup and Forsberg (2015).
When doesn’t retail shelf advertising work?
As retailers we must acknowledge that not all of our advertising efforts will work for all customers. This too has been addressed by the academic research into shelf advertising. A 2008 consumer behaviour study attempted to find out exactly how shelf edge signs influence customers. Their findings showed that shelf signs are particularly influential when customers are considering whether to switch brands .
They found that some consumers can be categorised as “brand loyalists”, and those consumers may not pay attention to the signage at the point of sale as much as the bargain hunter type of shopper. Although this shows that shelf signage doesn’t work for everyone, these findings do highlight the potential for retailers to influence the brand-shifting behaviour of some shoppers with using their retail shelf display.
Harnessing the power of shelf advertising: what to display on shelf signs
Just as shelf signs can be used to prompt healthy choices, they can also be used to prompt indulgent ones, such as for sweet treats. Similarly, they can prompt practical impulse buys too, such as useful items like batteries or toothpaste. Retail shelf signs can also simply be used to highlight special offers and discounts. Most of us are now unconsciously primed to look for the tell-tale discount signs that jump out at us from shop shelves. But, as retailers, what exactly do we need to display on our shelf signage in order to raise our sales?
- Get across the essential information on your shelf edging strips. These normally prioritise the product name and price.
- Use bright colours. Strong colours like red and yellow are often used to signify deals on shelf wobblers and talkers. You can also use infill strips at your shelf edge to highlight brand colours, or to colour code your shelving, such as green for vegetables and red for meat.
- Aisle signs and over-shelf banner hangers can draw customer attention from further away than your shelf edge signs can; use these to attract customers to a specific area.
- Use large, bold fonts for your text. You have to make the information easy to read, and get the message across in a matter of seconds, or you could lose the interest of your potential customer.
- Provide supplementary information on larger shelf signs or in leaflets. You can use these materials to display attractive graphics and persuasive product descriptions.
- Shelf barkers (aka shelf talkers) and wobbling signs will draw the eye to specific shelves and products. Use these to display clear, succinct, and appealing messages, such as ‘Special Offer’, or ‘50% off’.
Which shelf signs do I need?
Most retail shelving relies on the use of data strips for shelf edges, in order to display product names, prices, barcodes and product numbers. They can also be used to display brand colours and promotional information.
Retail wobblers project from shelving, jumping out at customers and grabbing their attention. Although some types can be fixed in a certain position, they gained their name from the way they wobble gently in a slight breeze.
Talkers are commonly used to display special prices and promotions. While they don't move in the same way that wobblers do, they are normally bigger than your data strip in order to stand out and display additional details.
Hooks and Clip Strips
Hang clip strips and other items from your shelf edge to save on shelf space. Use a branded header and price ticket to ensure your customers have all the information they need in the moment to make an impulse buy.
Leaflet holders are great for encouraging customers to take away literature, so you can continue to influence them at home. Pamphlet holders can stand on your shelves, but why not use a shelf edge leaflet holder to maximise shelf storage?
Ticket Clips and Grips
Ticket clips and grips are available in a variety of styles to ensure you can always attach essential information to your products and shelves, even shelving without a datastrip at the edge, such as wire rack shelving.
Before choosing your shelf signs, however, you may need to identify what type of shelves you have, as this may affect the type of sign fixings you require. Knowing what types of retail shelving you have could save you time and money, as investing in the wrong type of retail shelf sign fixings could be a costly mistake.
Types of retail shelving:
- Flat shelves - These come in a wide range of materials, depths and styles, including slatwall and twinslot varieties. Flat shelf edges are a convenient option as you can simply fix your shelf strips with adhesive, or slot on POS clips.
- Glass shelves - These normally have quite a narrow depth, and present the challenges of being both fragile and completely clear. This means you will want to use discreet sign fixings, like data strips for glass and wire shelving.
- Wire shelves - With wire basket shelving and grid shelves you are unable to use standard shelf edge strips, therefore two-way spring clips, basket sign holders and metal s hooks are all useful.
- Tegometall shelves - These are one of the most popular retail shelving types as they are so robust, as well as being easy to construct and reconfigure. Standard tegometal shelf edge strips clip on quickly and can be reused.
With the influence of shelf signage on customers so clearly demonstrated by countless studies, it would be foolish for retailers to ignore the advertising potential of their shelf edge space. Incorporating more shelf edge advertising into a retail marketing strategy helps to create a more profitable bricks-and-mortar store.
For more information on the best type of retail shelf merchandising and advertising products you can use in your business, check out our shelf talkers buying guide.
Retail Shelf Sign Fixings
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1. Khan and Rahman, 'Brand experience anatomy in retailing: An interpretive structural modeling approach', Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 24(C), 60–69 (2015), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2015.02.003 [accessed 18.8.20].
2. Farris, Aquilino, Batra, Marshall and Losch', 'Impact of a passive social marketing intervention in community pharmacies on oral contraceptive and condom sales: a quasi-experimental study', BMC Public Health, Vol 15: 143 (2015).
3. Milliron, Woolf and Appelhans, 'A Point-of-Purchase Intervention Featuring In-Person Supermarket Education Affects Healthful Food Purchases', Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 44(3), 225-232 (2012).
4. Clement, J, 'Decisive visual saliency and consumers' in-store decisions', Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 22, pp. 187–194 (2015).
5. Van der Merwe, Sonnenberg and Kempen, 'Exploring the influence of shelf-edge signage on consumer decision-making in Gauteng', Journal of Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences, Vol 3 (2008).