Product and price are all very well, but it also takes the right colour, image and shape on the sign for the message to reach the right target group. Per Alamiekkoja, founder of Shoppa, talks about the most important keys to effective, targeted customer communication.
There is a lot of talk about targeted marketing in the retail sector. More and more companies are striving to give relevant, more personal offers to customer club members. But not everyone thinks about the importance of a targeted communication in mass marketing as well, for example in the form of signs.
The Swedish Transport Administration is great at targeted communication. With their road signs, they help drivers choose the right direction depending on where they are travelling, explains Per Alamiekkoja. He argues that the retail sector could be improved in this area, using in-store signs to guide different target groups towards the right products in a store.
“How are we communicating to the intended target group? This is the question that companies must ask themselves each time an in-store sign is hung up. Usually it’s the retail chain’s graphic design that determines the appearance of the signs, with not a thought about the fact that this might exclude the target group. In this case, the communication is adapted to the sender only, not the receiver,” he says.
The keys to effective in-store communication
Per Alamiekkoja has put together a list of the most important keys for communication in a dream store. The first key is colour. “In our society, we have learnt the language of colours for items such as taps, toilet doors and traffic lights. In the retail sector, we also use certain colours to represent different messages. For example, is red the colour for sales or low prices, green represents organic food and environment-friendly items. But colours can be used even more in our in-store signage.”
Boost the message using images
The second key is image. It is said that a picture paints a thousand words, so a product image on a sign is naturally a great help to boost the message. Especially for someone who does not speak the same language, says Per.
The shape, key number three, can be used for both the in-store sign and the message on it. Round or sharp shapes can send out completely different messages.
Key number four is the font. There is a great difference between thin, fancy fonts and bold, angular ones.
“The font can rub off on the products. This is why it is so important to think through the graphical profile in the store before the signs are made,” says Per.
How much information, the fifth key, a sign should contain depends entirely on the products to be sold. The choice of words is also important. How we express ourselves is vital to be able to reach our target group.
The format is another key. Different sizes of signs can contribute to different effects. Here is my proposition of how to guide the customers to buy a product: begin with a placard outside the store that draws in customers. Follow up inside the store with smaller signs that show the way to the products. Finish with labels right next to the products to help customers with their purchasing decision, suggests Per.
The seventh key, the sign’s structure, also plays a major role. Research results show how the price, for example, can be perceived differently depending on where on the sign it is placed, explains Per.
Combine physical and digital signs
Should we use physical or digital signs? This is a question that many are asking themselves right now. But it does not have to be an either/or situation, according to the founder of Shoppa. “Quite the opposite, the combination is the ultimate solution! It is the interaction between physical and digital signs that simplifies customers’ purchasing decisions considerably. This is one of Shoppa’s strengths – to be able to work with both types of signs. It is just as easy to create digital ones as physical signs.
Targeted customer communication
The ninth and final key is target adaptation. “All of the keys are about being more targeted, but this is so important that I want to talk about it a bit more,” says Per. “It’s about creating other opportunities to communicate to encourage customers to make purchasing decisions. We all need to move towards more targeted customer communication in order for the stores to be successful in the fierce competition in today’s retail sector.”