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Magnificent 12

The Magnificent Twelve

A simplified framework for effective point-of-purchase design & implementation.


1. Know Your Retailers

Knowing a retailer’s POP limitations is critical. Designing projects that won’t be allowed on the floor is a waste of time and money. 

Ask these key questions before you begin.

i) Do you have a retail standards document?
ii) Are there any height limitations?
iii) Does the POP solution need to complement your in- store strategy and, if it does, how can we best do this?


2. Know Your Target and Respond to Their Needs

Know your target first. Understand who they are and how they talk. Focus on clearly communicating the right message in the right way. Answering a consumer’s fundamental needs is much more powerful than simply stating your product’s basic benefits. (fig. A)

Display B simply lists the product’s benefits. Display A goes further, as it shows shoppers how they too can have a happy child.

Display B simply lists the product’s benefits. Display A goes further, as it shows shoppers how they too can have a happy child.

Great marketers keep consumers’ needs front and centre when defining their actions in the market. If manufacturers design products that meet consumers’ needs, consumers will more often choose these products over those of competitors — and increase those manufacturers’ sales.

POP is an excellent way to highlight your product’s benefits and differentiate your brand from competitors’ in the same category but they must relate to consumer needs to be effective.

POP is an excellent way to highlight your product’s benefits and differentiate your brand from competitors’ in the same category but they must relate to consumer needs to be effective.

The Seven Categories of Shopper Needs

i) Convenience and comfort: Does it make my life easier?

ii) Financial security: Can I save money if I buy this product?

iii) Esteem: Does the product/ brand make me feel better/ good about myself?

iv) Love and belonging: There are three kinds of love and belonging needs:

Family love: In most homes, one person does the shopping for a family. This means that shoppers buy products that they believe best answer their family’s needs.

Belonging: Humans are tribal: For millions of years we have lived in groups. Fitting in is a powerful motivator. No shopper is an island.

Intimate love: Hygiene and fitness products leverage the human need to be intimate.

v) Safety for self and the people they love: Is this a healthy product, with a small environmental footprint?

vi) Self- actualization: Can this product/ brand help me become what I aspire to be? (Luxury products, for example: People pay thousands of dollars for watches that work no better than a $20 timepiece.)

vii) Enjoyment: Will this product bring a measure of joy to the consumer’s life?

When choosing images and writing copy, consider which needs your product and your message address.
Ask: What does my shopper want? A product that fights bad breath by killing bacteria or something that helps them get close to someone.


3. Location, Location, Location

Consider what the shopper is thinking, depending on where they are in the store. Understand store traffic patterns and get your display in a prime location (race track, action alley, front of store) if possible. A display that hits retail and/or brand objectives and peaks shopper interest will have a much better chance of securing prime real estate on the sales floor or may receive multiple placements - an incremental location in a new or untraditional category. For example, a fruit-flavoured candy that is placed in a temporary dumpbin that resembles an apple tree, could be placed in the produce department as well as confectionary!


4. Make it Easy

Make it easy for the consumer - make your product easily accessible. Over-designed displays will have a negative impact on sales (fig. B)

Display A is easily accessible where as taking product from B is cumbersome.

Display A is easily accessible where as taking product from B is cumbersome.

5. Make Your Product the Hero

Use your display real estate to communicate the best reason(s) why a shopper should need your product, and let the packaging speak for itself. Avoid displays that cover too much of the product packaging. (fig. B — Display B)

Differentiate your product from competitors but do it effectively.


6. Be Bold, Clear & Direct!

i) Keep the text short and punchy: Shoppers are not a captive audience. Your message needs to be delivered at a glance. Do not assume that a shopper will want to read. (fig. C)

ii) If possible, make your benefits visual: Images are an automatic read! (fig. C)

iii) If you don’t say it well, you’re not saying anything at all: Every brand vies for your shopper’s attention. If the shopper needs to decipher your message, they won’t connect. (fig. C)

iv) Use bold, easy to read type:

Below is a commonly accepted calculation for determining type size viewed beyond 18”.

Example: A sign from 12 feet away... (12 * 12) * 0.472 = 68 points

This is a good guide for most typefaces, although decorative fonts are an exception: Since they are less legible, it’s a good idea to print things and see for yourself.

v) Use bold, high- contrast colours

High contrast colours are most noticeable. There are three applicable ways that you can create contrast.

Complementary Colour Contrast: This refers to colours that oppose each other on the primary colour wheel (RED, YELLOW, BLUE). Opposing light wave lengths exaggerate each colour’s impact, producing a vibrant effect. (fig. D)

The Contrast of Saturation: Contrast is created by the juxtaposition of light and dark values and relative saturation of colours. (fig. E)

This is a relatively effective means of staying on brand while not deviating far from colours defined in a style guide.

The contrast of extension: Contrast is created by assigning proportional field sizes in relation to the visual weight of a colour. Notice that through the contrast of extension, the right image is visually more powerful than the left. (fig. F)

Contrast of extension is the best way to stay on brand because no new colours are introduced to a design. The most effective results are achieved by combining all three contrast methods but depending on brand standards, this is not always possible.


7. Create an Experience

“People spend money when they are having fun.” – Walt Disney

Tell a story, and create an experience. Delight, engage, and motivate. The best, the brightest, and the biggest connect with customers, at every touchpoint.

Leverage a great ad campaign or promotion. If you already have a great brand experience, you’re already 90% of the way there.

Know how to use bells and whistles. Sound or movement should always enhance, not annoy. Think about retail employees as well as shoppers: Loud repetitive sounds will be shut off and continual motion can set off store alarms after- hours. Audio and motion work best when they’re triggered by the shopper.


8. Be Creative (and Stay on Brand)

Respect style guides: Great brands are built on ridged systems that encompass an overarching visual theme yet have the flexibility to accommodate different applications. Style guides define a brand and are integral to effective POP design, whileRetail is the point at which your product is connected to every other aspect of your marketing.

To successfully execute a promotion, you need to do two things:

i) Provide the proper assets. Make sure design assets are provided to your POP designers, and always include your brand’s style guide.

ii) Designers with a true design mentality. This is very important.

Graphic design is not art — it’s visual problem solving. To work within a defined design system, a designer must be visually flexible and leave personal artistic style out of their work. As a great master of style once said, the perfect style is no style:

“When one has reached maturity, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”
—Bruce Lee


9. Effective Communication Real Estate

Always consider where the shopper is looking. The normal human visual field extends to approximately 50 degrees in each eye vertically and 60 degrees horizontally. (fig. G) The typical shopper gaze hovers between 3.5 and 4.5 feet, knowing this try to place your message in that strike zone.

This directly impacts available effective real estate on displays, floor graphics and aisle blades. Consider how much of your message is visible when a shopper is actually going to engage a communication piece. A line of copy one inch off the floor is ineffective (fig. H).

10. Choose Appropriate Materials

To help you determine which material is right for your project, ask these questions.

i) How long does it need to last?
ii) Is it for interior or exterior use?
iii) Is it in a high traffic or low traffic area?
iv) Would an initial investment in permanent POP save you money over the long term?
v) Can anything be cut to save material costs and reduce environmental impact, without harming the display’s integrity?


11. Timing is Everything

Giving designers more time allows them to consider the best options. Smarter design can result in modular solutions that can mean dramatic long-term savings. Extended timelines can also allow a producer to source potential offshore production or to special-order materials.


12. Be the Shopper

Forget what you do for a living. Step away and look at the element through your shopper’s eyes. Ask yourself, “Would this encourage me to buy this product?”. Put your inner designer in the shopper’s shoes.


Recommended Reading

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping
by Paco Underhill

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
by Martin Lindstrom

Shopper Marketing: How to Increase Purchase Decisions at the Point of Sale
by Markus Stahlberg and Ville Maila

The Advertised Mind: Groundbreaking Insights Into How Our Brains Respond to Advertising
by Erik du Plessis

The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems
by J. Muller- Brockmann

The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color
by Johannes Itten

The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten Based on His Book The Art of Color
by Johannes Itten

Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living
by Bruce Lee and John Little

The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman