Point of sale marketing, commonly known as point of purchase advertising, attracts retail shoppers at the point of a purchase. In other words, point of sale (POS) marketing lures shoppers into buying additional products or services at checkout. Point of sale marketing utilises display to catch a shopper's attention; displays can range from signs and banners to coupon dispensers and video advertisements at the cash register. Regardless of the type of display, POS marketing often results in impulsive purchases.
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Point of sale displays come in many shapes and forms; regardless of type, they often are eye-catching and engaging. Traditional displays and signage are the most widely and commonly used in retail stores today. These types of POS displays include specific shelf signage, kiosks, coupon dispensers and banners. Digital signs emerged in the late 2000s and has replaced many traditional print display tactics. Free samples or enticing discounts and offers often accompany POS displays.
The areas surrounding checkout are prime locations for point of sale marketing, and new technologies and media are making it easier than ever to capture shoppers' attention at the cash register. According to Promo magazine, "Spending on P-O-P, the largest consumer promotions category, increased 2.2% to £13.5 billion in 2008, as in-store media with its ability to reach a captive audience at point-of-sale became a focus of marketing campaigns." As part of a mass market campaign, point of sale marketing serves as a proven medium for additional advertising.
Point of sale marketing generates new product awareness, trial and ultimately, purchase. While most shoppers purchase an item they found on the shelf, offers, discounts and samples near the point of purchase often lead to shoppers switching brands. In-depth shopper marketing research prefaces POS design so marketers know which types of messages will resonate with the target audience and motivate impulse purchases.
Consumer brand preference and brand performance often influence behaviour at the point of purchase. Before the advent of eye-tracking technology, marketers could not measure the effectiveness of POS marketing because they could not pinpoint whether purchase decisions were based more on personal brand preference or the power of display.
Advances in eye-tracking technology have allowed researchers to track shopper eye movement along store shelves and POS displays. A study conducted for the Journal of Consumer Research explored the correlation between eye fixation and purchase, finding that consumers look at brands in one of two ways -- either noting the brand (a simple look) or gazing at the brand (viewing it over the course of several seconds). The study found that POS displays that coincide with brand recall and gaze more often lead to impulsive purchases.
It should be noted, however, that although eye-tracking technology advances each year, "further research is necessary to examine the role of the first and following eye fixations on variables of interest to marketers, such as sales," according to a 2002 paper written by Pierre Chandon, assistant marketing professor at INSEAD.
Digital POS displays
Since the late 2000s, interactive kiosks have replaced many types of traditional print displays. Digital signage and interactive kiosks promote new products, specials, discounts, recipes and contests at and around the cash register.
Interactive signage near checkout is "a smart move, since nearly 30 percent of people wait until they are in the store to decide which brand they will buy," according to OgilvyAction's 2008 global shopper study.
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