Canadians Find In-Store Displays ‘Boring’: Study


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Canadian shoppers find in-store displays boring and retailers need to start paying more attention to what they are doing to become more attractive in grabbing consumer attention.

Those are the striking results of a recent Field Agent survey of 250 Canadian shoppers after they were shown images of 15 store displays and then asked to respond to five questions about each display.

“By all accounts, Canadian consumer packaged goods suppliers are spending tens of millions of dollars each year creating temporary promotional displays to support new innovation, consumer promotions and feature pricing activity,” said Jeff Doucette, General Manager of Field Agent Canada.

But the results of it survey were not very good.

Image: Field Agent Canada

The company introduced its Shopper Impact Score which looked at four different areas:

  • Stopping Power – how likely is the shopper to stop and look at the display;
  • Strength of Offer – how appealing is the offer on the display;
  • Uniqueness – how unique is the display versus other displays in-store; and
  • Conversion Power – how likely is the shopper to purchase something from the display.

Ratings were based on a scale up to 10 and the four factors were combined to determine the overall Shopper Impact Score for each display tested, allowing shopper marketers to make better choices about display concepts.

Image: Field Agent Canada

Here’s how the 15 displays scored: Stopping Power, 5.8; Strength of Offer, 5.6; Uniqueness, 5.3; and Conversion Power, 5.4. The overall Shopper Impact Score was an unimpressive 5.5.

Doucette said the scores were kind of shocking even for some of the top retailers like Lays.

“When we put this survey together we were expecting that we’d have a higher ranking top of the chart. We thought that the scores would be higher in general than they were . . . I think it really speaks to even the good displays just aren’t breaking through with the shopper today. It isn’t something that they’re paying as much attention to as they might have in the past,” said Doucette.

“I don’t know if getting to a nine or a 10 is even realistic because at the end of the day it’s really a benchmarking tool. But when you look at the top three displays that were there, the things that stood out for me and what we’ve gleaned from other research that we’ve done is that successful displays like the Lays one integrated the package and the faces. That tends to resonate more. There’s a Kit Kat display when you look at the display . . . it’s not flush to the traffic . . . they turned the display so that the pointed edge of the rectangle or cube just faces the traffic and I think that just grabs people’s attention a bit more because it’s a different shape than they’re used to seeing.”

“And then in the cover on the McDonald’s display what was really interesting there is you have this dark sort of McCafe colour the sort of brownish blackish colour but then it contrasts really with the yellow and orange which really makes you think of Ronald McDonald almost immediately when you see that colour. But the contrast really catches people’s eyes.”

Field Agent Canada

He said displays are common now in stores and they are important.

“We know that displays work. We know that having the display in people’s traffic zones work. But I think what’s really important, with the amount of money that’s being spent on these displays, how do we make them better performing than they are today? It’s one thing to have the display and have that space dedicated. The other thing is to get the product moving off that display,” said Doucette.

“By working on shopper impact scores and trying to find out what drives higher scores and doing more of that you’ll drive more off take and have more successful displays.”

Based on the findings of the survey, Field Agent recommends the following actions for shopper marketing teams:

  1. Promotional agencies conduct pre-testing of display concepts before choosing designs and planning production;

  2. In-situ testing of displays in a variety of retail environments with category shoppers to determine Shopper Impact Score and in-store execution;

  3. Benchmarking with competitive displays to determine the optimal display design and best practices by category; and

  4. Cataloging and integration of best practices into future projects to ensure continuous improvement in Shopper Impact Scores over time.

    Field Agent is the first mobile app that pays Canadians to collect data and complete surveys while they shop. Retailers and vendors can use Field Agent to conduct shopper research right in the store or gather information on promotional compliance, pricing, on-shelf availability and much more. Its unique crowd sourced platform allows this data to be collected very quickly, and for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.


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