The point of purchase (AKA POP) is the most powerful place in the distribution chain. It’s the only place where the product, the customer, the money, and the final decision all come together. No matter what you customer has seen online or in the media, they are still greatly influenced by what they see on the shelf. In retail, that’s where your marketing materials really make a difference.
The graphic artists in your marketing department are so proud of the results of their hard labor! They have created stunning shelf cards, product hang tags, and display pieces. They colorfully present third-party endorsements, awards, and distinguishing factors that add value to the purchase. These marketing materials are printed on glossy stock, usually cut with a one-of-a-kind die.
They are expensive and, due to obsolescence, have a very short “shelf” life. And yet, these expensive works of art may experience the worst form of abuse; they may never make it to the shelf. Still, your distributers, brokers and retailers will ask for more of these precious printed products. Confusing, isn’t it?
So, if everybody wants them and they are so effective, why don’t they make it to the shelf?
Store Policy. Store managers suddenly want “the clean look,” and will systematically throw out all shelf cards, product tags and display cards! This occurs when too many shelf signs are competing for attention, making the department look like a pizza. Now you will have to start over again in that store. And if you don’t know that this change took place, you may just hear that your product wasn’t selling in that store and, as a result, it is now discontinued.
Distributer Warehouse Overload. The distributers simply have too much of this stuff. Many producers think their distributers will put it up. It’s in their best interest, isn’t it? Forget about it. They throw all unused point of purchase materials out every month. They simply don’t have the room. The garbage dumpsters are full of unopened boxes of your graphic artists’ pride and joy.
Too Much Work. Distributers, brokers, and retail personnel are overworked and putting up point of purchase materials for hundreds of branded products is just plain daunting. They all figure the manufacturer should be the one to put these signs up.
We found two ways to get our point of purchase materials up and keep them up:
- We did it ourselves. Our own reps on our payroll put the signs up. They worked on commission, which gave them a real interest in keeping our shelf presence as up to date and compelling as possible. They policed the retail shelf on a regular basis to replace what the competition took down, and were the first to get our marketing materials back up after a “clean sweep.”
- We put awards we had won at competitions right on our front label. They were applied directly to our package on the bottling line, so additional labor was not required. The package is the only advertising material that always makes it to the shelf. We also designed our back labels to communicate our selling points. When a customer picks up your product, she can do one of two things: put it in her cart, or put it back on the shelf. Your package is your last chance to sell her, so make it compelling.
So, before you give in to the demands of distributers, brokers, and retailers for more point of purchase materials, make sure it’s going up and not out in the dumpster!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders