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Winning at the Point-of-Purchase Impulse Buying Game

Posted by Cindy Banker on 9/28/17 3:06 PM

The challenges of point of purchase are becoming more challenging.

As consumers, we might tell ourselves that we’re creatures of habit, making lists and mapping out shopping trips with military precision.

But the truth is, most consumer behavior happens on a subconscious level. We’re hard-wired to make impulse purchases.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • People achieve a “high” when they shop. Acquiring new things, or even browsing, can release the mood-enhancing compound dopamine into our systems.
  • FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is a powerful motivator.
  • We have an innate need to save time and money. This goes back to hunter-gatherer times, where humans needed to stock up on the things they needed to survive. While we’ve moved beyond that era, the biological drive – “This thing might come in handy!” – is still there.

More people today use grocery list apps.Still, this doesn’t mean retailers and product marketers have it easy when it comes to impulse purchasing.  As Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl put it:

“More people are making online grocery lists, and items like candy bars and chewing gum generally are not included. When people get groceries delivered or pick them up outside the store, they avoid those impulse displays. Plus, many people who still buy groceries the old-fashioned way often ignore those last-minute treats as they gaze at their screens instead of their potential snacks as they wait to pay.”

So, getting consumers to buy impulse in these times of changing consumer habits and buying patterns is challenging.  It requires a more strategic approach to marketing products in this new landscape.

This doesn’t mean things are hopeless in the world of impulse purchasing and point-of-purchase displays. Consider these strategies for getting your products in front of customers:

1. Rethink the checkout experience

Counter items should be more pertinent for today's customers.Items in today’s checkout section might seem outdated to shoppers, writes Jonathan Asher of the pack research firm PRS IN VIVO.

“They typically include print magazines – despite the rapid dissolution of the medium,” he writes, “as well as soft drinks and confectionary products – despite the increasing interest in eating healthy.”

He suggests stocking the front of stores with healthier items – granola bars, yogurt – and things like locally produced products, and smartphone accessories.

More importantly – especially where impulse purchasing and point-of-purchase displays are concerned – the displays containing these items need to be engaging enough to get shoppers to look up from their phones and pay attention.

2. Consider your messaging

Messaging such as "quick" and "healthy" speak to today's customer.Think about the message you want to convey with your display. Do you want to let shoppers know the benefits of your product? The low price? The fact that what you’re offering is limited? Remember the concept of “FOMO” or fear of missing out that we mentioned earlier.

“Shoppers don’t want to regret leaving a product behind once they exit the store, so choose the most compelling message that plays into the loss aversion mindset,” writes Jessica Bianchi in Shopify.

Asher argues that emotionally-driven messaging works better than “cognitively-driven text.” In other words, play up how a product tastes before you say it’s low in sodium.

3. Be unique

Unusual or unique items that solve everyday problems often catch customers’ attention and increase sales. “As Seen on TV” products that are small enough to be featured as a counter/checkout display will capture shoppers’ attention.

4. Anticipate the needs of the consumer

Why rely on impulse buying, when you can anticipate what consumers want at check-out. Think about those items that are most often forgotten or overlooked by your consumers.  For mothers, it may be a small package of wipes or an easy-to-transport coloring book or game for the kids.  Think about those items that consumers often ask for and try to position them front and center for easy access.

Choose healthier or more useful items as your impulse buy displays.

Gift cards are a sought after last-minute item for birthdays and holidays.  Make sure your displays are in clear sight and are well stocked with consumer favorites. Don’t forget the classics.

We may be more interested in eating healthy, but we still want candy. It’s the number one impulse buy. Also popular are seasonal items: hand cream and lip balm in the winter, sunblock and sunglasses in the summertime. People often look for travel size items, and they are great products to make available when shoppers are on the go.

5. Create a stress-free experience

Many retailers have fallen into the trap of crowding as much merchandise as possible into the checkout space.  With today’s consumers, who are often in a rush to complete their shopping tasks, the last thing you want to do is create more stress with an overwhelming product display. 

Keep your counter space and checkout area as inviting as possible.  Position point-of-purchase displays so that shoppers can visually connect with the merchandise.

Give consumers a chance to really interact with the featured impulse-purchase items on display.  If you have done your homework, and truly understand the needs and motivations of your shoppers, you will be able maximize your impulse-purchase sales.

If you’re looking for ways to marry impulse purchasing and point-of-purchase displays for your products, ProCorr Display and Packaging can help.

Our team can work with you to create POP displays that meet the specifications of you and your retailers, while doing the crucial job of attracting consumer attention. Contact us today to find out more, and see a complete portfolio of our displays.

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