Winning at Retail: Using Promotional Displays to Increase Sales (Part 1)

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Displays that encourage consumers to make an impulse purchase are proven to increase sales, but limited retail space and increased demands from retailers are forcing manufacturers to be more strategic and creative than ever in their use of these displays.

Two fundamental factors help explain the importance of promotional displays:

  1. Impulse buying is pervasive, with 62% of shoppers surveyed admitted to buying items on impulse.
  2. The competition to catch consumers’ attention is fierce in retail. An average grocery store, for example, carries more than 30,000 SKUs. In this environment, displays are a way to stand out from all the items on the regular shelves.

Whether it’s a giant display that greets you when you walk in the store or a pack of gum at the grocery-store checkout line, brands and retailers rightly put a great deal of thought into how to best make use of the power of displays to encourage impulse buying.

The Psychology of Impulse Buying

Impulse buying is driven by basic psychological dynamics that affect shoppers in the store. When an impulse purchase is made, one or more of these dynamics causes the shopper to react emotionally rather than rationally—and this emotion is what brands can tap into.

The role of emotion over planned, rational buying explains why the most likely consumers to make an impulse purchase are those who enter a store without a list of what to buy. A recent survey noted that 34% of shoppers don’t have a list, while an additional 47% rely on a mental list—these are the shoppers who brands need to reach with displays that take advantage of the psychology of impulse.

Although grocery stores are the obvious example of impulse buying, all types of retail stores use displays and the psychology of impulse to increase sales—clothing, electronics, home improvement, etc. It just works. When you can get consumers to think emotionally rather than rationally, you’ve found a way to increase sales.

The Battle for the Impulse Buy

The challenge for retailers is that retail space is limited, particularly with a trend toward clear-aisle policies. Not only that, but retailers are becoming savvy marketers themselves. Strong store labels, loyalty programs, and store-organized seasonal features are competing with brand displays. Retailers are demanding more from manufacturers before they set aside their store space for the brand’s promotion. With the average grocery store carrying between 30,000 and 50,000 product SKUs, only those featuring the best offers are chosen to fill display space. It’s up to the manufacturers to create winning programs and valuable offers that retailers can get excited about.

In part 2 of this blog, we’ll look at three ways brands can continue to succeed in winning displays.

Dylan MacTavish,Business Development Manager, Insured Creativity.


I’m the Business Development Manager at Insured Creativity.

To talk more, you can email me at 

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