I’m often asked to identify the characteristics of an effective shelf talker. It’s an important question! In my travels, I see a lot of shelf talkers that neither engage nor inform. It seems (by looking at many shelf-talkers) that many a sales professional is just trying to check of an item on his or her to-do list. Most shelf-talkers just take up space and seem sort of half-asked. But it shouldn’t be that way. Numerous studies show that nearly half of all purchase decisions are made at the point of purchase. In other words, many consumers don’t know what they want when they enter a store and they need help making a selection. Certainly, with stores cutting staff, effective shelf-talkers (aka: silent sales professionals) can and will help move product. Effective merchandising is a great way to differentiate your business and your products.
I bold-faced the word “engage” above because as you’ll see below, grabbing the consumer’s attention or engaging them is half the battle.
Engaging shelf-talkers stand out in the following ways:
1) Engaging shelf talkers have big fonts – or at least a big enough typeface so that consumers can comfortably read them.
The population is aging (as am I) and as one ages, he ultimately loses his or her ability to see like the good old days. (If you don’t see that now, you will soon. No pun intended!) All typefaces should be bold and clear. Try to use the following colors as they’re easy to decipher: Black, red and white. Suffice to say, consumers shouldn’t need to squint to read your shelf-talkers.
2) Engaging shelf talkers are readable and can be read while a consumer is moving.
Consumers move pretty fast and if you spend some time in an account just watching them, you’ll know what I mean. To draw the attention of people moving quickly, a sign must not only have the right size letters, but should also be in a font that one can read while moving. Stay away from crazy fonts. If you’re not sure, make a sign, put it up and see how it looks as you approach it. If the words aren’t clear as you approach, go back to the drawing board.
3) Engaging shelf talkers are creative – but not overly creative.
How’s that for a contradiction? It’s not just crazy fonts that sabotage your efforts; excess creativity can take a bite as well. Creativity is a good thing but not at the expense of your message. Often images and graphics work against the effective delivery of your message. A well-designed sign is creative, and highlights the unique selling benefit or the product’s story, while highlighting, but not necessarily emphasizing the artist’s skills.
4) Engaging shelf talkers are informative in at least one compelling way.
It’s about to get controversial here! I abhor tasting notes. I think they have a place in beverage selling but, unfortunately, most descriptions rely on overused phrases like “hints of pear” and “a floral bouquet”. Further, I believe that many sales professionals use these descriptions because they’re easily sourced from either the Internet or the supplier. I firmly believe that both the sales professional and retailer know far more about how to sell a product in a given market than the supplier – in some cases located half a world away.
Aesthetically, in the case of shelf-talkers, I am bothered in two ways. First, there are often way too many words for such a small space. Second, as many shelf-talkers look the same, one doesn’t necessarily stand out. That’s the whole objective of a shelf-talker – to stand out.
Shelf talkers should have one primary focal point. Something other than what one could discern by picking up the bottle. If the product has one redeeming benefit, than that’s what should catch the consumer’s attention. Just scored a 93 in a major trade publication, then that’s what should catch the consumer’s attention. It’s certainly more time-consuming to make your shelf-talkers stand out, but you’ll be rewarded by the extra effort.
5) Engaging shelf talkers are well maintained and don’t look like they’re been hanging there since wine was invented.
Retailers know that it’s beneficial to shake things up a bit. By that I mean it helps to give your store a fresh look every once in a while. Often, just moving a product from one end of the aisle to the other leaves consumers with the impression that it’s a new product. Back in my retail days, I remember how we would move a product 2 feet and customers would ask when we got the XYZ Chardonnay in stock. Funny thing is we had it all along; it was just 2 feet the other way!
A well maintained shelf-talker may give the illusion of an exciting new product and, just that fact alone, might spur some incremental sales.
That’s just the way it works!
About Darryl Rosen:
Darryl Rosen is one of the food and beverage industry’s leading consultants. He uses his experience and relatable speaking and training style to transform his client’s cultures and lead them to extraordinary results. Darryl’s program is designed to transform the cultures of food and beverage sales organizations in the areas of relationship building, sales presentations, sales coaching, feedback, accountability and execution, meetings, strategic leadership and success and achievement.
Categories: Selling more