People not looking at point of purchase (POP) on fast food restaurant

5 Tips for More Effective QSR Marketing Point of Purchase

Only 13% of consumers even glance at your point of purchase (POP). Here’s what you can do about it.

Visual confusion seems to be the primary issue reducing POP engagement, according to Dr. Hugh Phillips, author and internationally recognized expert on the cognitive psychology of shopping.

In a recently released book entitled Marketing at Retail, Phillips argues that the net effectiveness of POP at retail drops below 10%, to around 6-8%, when you factor in poor design and store-level installation compliance—sobering statistics, considering the investment QSRs make in POP.

Fortunately, Phillips offers 5 tips to improve your customer POP engagement:

1. Use familiar brand imagery, graphics and colors.
The human eye scans broadly, says Phillips, making educated guesses about what it sees. The brain compares seen images to stored images in the brain in the blink of an eye—0.2 seconds, to be exact. What it doesn’t recognize, it ignores.

This is one reason Phillips points out that only 16% of consumers who glance at POP will actually engage with the POP.

You can promote recognition by using images and brand graphics at the store POP level that are consistent with all brand media images—TV, print, web, etc.

Being recognizable gives the brain permission to engage (or read) your message.

2. Design with a visual track.
Once recognition occurs, a customer’s scan will shift from a broad to a narrow scan. Now, reading can occur as the eye searches words and images for meaning and relevancy. This is also the moment when a distracting design can lose your customers’ attention—and lose the sale.

To avoid this, Phillips recommends designing POP with a clear visual track to guide a viewer’s eye in a 1-2-3 route. Careful—he’s not talking about three messages. He’s talking about designing a clear start-to-finish eye path that includes images and visuals that deliver your messaging hierarchy.

Caution: No POP ever stands alone. So you’re not done until you’ve judged how individual POP works in concert with surrounding POP.

3. Consumer Test POP.
While we’re all working hard on our POP, it’s important to remember that our customers are not. And no matter how much we try to be clear and effective, Phillips reminds us that customers will impose their own meaning onto his or her selective perceptions. So, you should always test your POP options to confirm clarity of message. You don’t have to spend a lot to test. Just 25 customer intercepts at three market stores will give you a good gut check.

4. Focus POP dollars.
If you’re like most regional QSRs, some stores and markets outperform others when it comes to product mix, daypart or overall sales. Consider customizing POP kits to avoid spreading dollars too thin over stores and markets that you know are not likely to respond. Instead, concentrate promotional dollars on stores and markets where you can make the most impact.

5. Check compliance.
Lastly, customers can’t engage POP if it’s not placed properly. According to Phillips, the average (mean) compliance across all retail is only 30%. Yet four out of five stores say they expect 90-100% compliance. To boost your compliance:

  • Assign store level accountability.
  • Communicate the necessity of POP for sales success.
  • Ship POP with easy, visual installation guides.
  • Conduct regular compliance audits.

About Dr. Hugh Phillips:
Dr. Phillips is an internationally recognized expert on the cognitive psychology of shopping—the study of consumer perception, information processing and decision-making. While his research encompasses all retail, Phillips has worked extensively with QSRs. He holds a PhD on this topic and has been published widely. His latest book, The Cognitive Psychology of Shopping and in-store Marketing, is available as an eBook.

photo credit: a derivative of work by Lucian Milasan via Shutterstock

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