Expert Column: Optimizing Shelf Marketing on the Path to Purchase

Every year we spend countless hours perusing the aisles of retail stores checking out products sitting on shelves. We base our ultimate purchasing decisions on a multitude of conscious and subconscious factors.

Retailers continue to do just about everything possible to drive the consumer’s attention to the shelf -- where the path to purchase ultimately ends.  The package and shelf-edge label are the final and most important communication points for the brand owner and retailer. They battle for the consumer’s attention with artistic graphics, displays and signage within the store environment.

Today shelf talkers and shelf markers (UPL’s - unit price labels) do more than just communicate a sale price. Retailers and brand marketers use the shelf-edge space to further influence the consumer.

With the shelf edge representing the penultimate retail real estate to engage with the shopper, these products and applications lead to what is known as the First Moment of Truth (FMOT), a  term coined by Procter & Gamble that describes a customer’s retail decision-making process. It asks, “What drives a purchase decision?” Does the customer touch the product? Does the customer look at it? At its core, the concept encourages retailers to produce sharper and flashier in-store displays. With that in mind, the shelf edge plays a critical role when it comes to the FMOT, as customers frequently look at packaging first and are then immediately drawn to the shelf talker. Here are four key examples of shelf talkers helping to augment the bottom line:

Capitalizing on Trends

Eating better has entered national consciousness on a level we’ve never seen before. When it comes to shopping dollars, a sizeable portion of Americans go with the healthiest choices for themselves and their families. Marketers can capitalize on trends such as these by placing nutritional values on shelf talkers so shoppers can make smarter and more informed choices.

The 'Center Aisles' Push

We all know milk and bread are located along the perimeter of the store. As staples in almost every household, they are on the top of most grocery lists so shoppers must pass a variety of products they might not normally buy to get to them. As smart consumers on a budget, we often try to stay away from additional purchases and often travel along the perimeter, or if we’re in a rush to cut down an uncrowded aisle of a store to reach the staples on our list. Approximately 20 percent (or 2 minutes) of our shopping time is spent in the center aisle on a normal shopping trip. This is a missed opportunity for retailers and manufacturers alike.  Self-adhesive shelf talkers, shelf strips, directional floor graphics and coordinated displays can influence consumer curiosity leading them to enter the center aisles.

Thinking Beyond Pricing

Shelf talkers provide more than pricing information. They are marketing communication tools that suggest purchasing decisions to shoppers, and provide the opportunity to cross sell with other brands and co-promotions (i.e. additional savings on gas purchase). By using not only numbers, but language (Best Value, Most Popular), shelf talkers are able to communicate needs and values to customers which drive sales lift within a category. Shelf talkers help make the shopping experience faster for the time-sensitive shopper.  

Customization at the Point of Sale

Retailers all have different needs and shelving types. Self-adhesive shelf talkers and shelf markers (UPL’s) are designed for all different types of shelf edges -- from painted metal to PVC shelf channels. Today pressure-sensitive adhesive films can aid in the promotion of a product or bring attention to an item with vibrant colorful graphics that can be digitally printed right onto the shelf talker.

Self-adhesive films do more at the shelf edge: 

  • Remove cleanly and in one piece 
  • No tape or glue required
  • Quickly peel and stick
  • Perform in the freezer, dairy and dry goods aisles
  • Resist product content and cleaning agents
  • Scratch, scuff, and tear resistant
  • Allow full color, high resolution graphics
  • Allow In-store printing for localization or competitive updates

Clear self-adhesive shelf talkers are being placed right over existing shelf markers (UPL’s) to promote sale items. The clear film allows the shelf marker (UPL) to remain the same, so shoppers can see the old price and the new promotion below. Inventory clerks can scan and read the original shelf marker (UPL) for inventory purposes. The clear shelf talker removes cleanly leaving the printed film shelf marker (UPL) undamaged and the variable printing intact.

Bottom line, shelf talkers are mini-billboards. They help drive sales at the FMOT for the retailer, while delivering value in the form of product information and they highlight sale items to the consumer.  Shelf-edge labels are tied into the strategic retailer promotions and category planograms all the while enhancing brand presence.

Shelf talkers continue to represent one of the simplest yet effective tools used in the retail market today to draw the consumer to a product. Much like the endless beauty that brand graphic designers and marketers put into the packaging of a product, the shelf edge can be made to look just as unique, appealing and match the brand it represents.