My latest visit to the local supermarket nearly had me rolling on the floor laughing over this product merchandising and signage mix up. Someone decided to place inflatable killer whale pool toys over the meat aisle without taking into consideration the wild imaginations of their customers. Although I do love my natural whale meat to be sourced in open nature, I don’t think that’s what this shop was trying to sell. Now we would never judge anyone for their creative, space saving, retail marketing efforts; however, this specific example can teach young visual merchandisers a very important lesson in signage proximity and text prominence.
Now that we are mid-July, I am certain that most of us are concerned with the silently approaching Holiday Season and want to make sure everything from our retail store fixtures to our signs and displays are fully optimized and ready to go. As you begin to map out your perfect floor plan, be sure to consider the proximity of all your signs, retail displays and miscellaneous product merchandising efforts. Remember that the human brain is always looking for short cuts and naturally creates groups of information in order to process the world more efficiently.
For example, as I was strolling along the back aisle of the store my eyes were naturally scanning/skimming the product displays, shelf edge signs and store promotions as I passed. When I noticed a killer whale in my peripheral vision I had to turn my head and give the merchandise my undivided attention. The store manager deserves some credit for catching my attention with a product (and also for using sign holders by Clip Strip Corp). But he or she missed an opportunity to leverage my short attention span. Rather than being encouraged to buy products or take advantage of an undeniable deal, they let my brain interpret the display in the following order:
- Hey, it’s Shamu.
- Open Nature…
- Natural MEAT?!?!
- OMG, they’re eating Killer Whale!!!
My focus had been attracted to the inflatable killer whale, but then my brain searched for more information to create context. As I tried to make sense of things my attention was pulled down by my own nature (we are top to bottom, left to right processors), then pulled in by the red sign that read ‘OPEN NATURE.’ When my focus continued with its linear scan I read the sign ‘natural meat,’ which the whale was nearly touching, and my brain shot off about 12 different types of red flags. Could this really be USDA CHOICE killer whale meat? Has San Diego really come to this? Is Sea World missing any Orcas? What will it taste like? How should I cook it? What will pair well with it? Do rewards members get a discount?
I had so many questions hit my brain all at once that it shut down. Then I looked again and noticed the words ‘quality beef’ in tiny letters. What a relief! After my double take I simply laughed it off. As I stood there, I wondered if this might bother (or possibly disturb) anyone else. Although PETA never came in with demands that the display be removed, I figured it was at least worth grabbing a picture to share with all of you.
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UPDATE: We found a ton of balloons and inflatables over at Fixtures Up Close if you interested.