Magazine article Marketing

Display - Growing in Modularity

Magazine article Marketing

Display - Growing in Modularity

Article excerpt

The display market is changing as store refits become rarer and modularity comes to the fore. Mandy Sutter looks at the rivalry between the traditional and 'systems' approaches

In the heady 80s, of dim memory, huge sums were spent on store refits, to the benefit of the design industry, says Charles Kessler, managing director of display and merchandising specialists Kessler Displays International. Now the display market is changing. There has been a marked decline in major refits, and even in the supermarkets and DIY sheds, opportunities are opening up for manufacturers to build their brands by offering merchandising fitments.

Coining the description "advertising without languages", Kessler points out that display is a medium that can be translated effortlessly throughout the world.

Providing brand merchandising equipment in this way does, however, make two important demands on display companies. First, the units they produce must be at once uniform (to reflect brand identity) and flexible, to fit into differing premises and layouts. Second, they must also be easy to work with, as they will often be used by staff unskilled in the art of display.

The key to all this is modularity

Modular units are proving more and more popular with brand manufacturers and indeed, their benefits are not lost in other areas where layouts or displays are frequently changed -- for example, in banks and airports.

Marler Haley's Guideline 90 system has been in evidence in the Duty Free Shop at Gatwick Airport for several years, as well as at other airports where it is used to direct passenger flow, an application where flexibility is extremely useful. Where graphics display is particularly important in a retail context, lightweight systems with a seamless finish -- like Nomadic Structures' Instand -- come into their own. Nomadic has received several orders from motor companies this year, including SAAB, which uses Instand to display graphics in its showrooms, reinforcing TV advertising at point-of-sale.

The growing interest in modularity has been opening up the display market to a new kind of supplier. No longer is retail fitting the domain of the traditional shop-fitting company; exhibition display companies from every sector of the industry are now bringing their experience in modular three-dimensional design to bear in a retail context.

Of course, companies supplying "constructed" modular systems, like Click Systems or RT Displays (with Octanorm and Newline) have been involved in shopfitting and related applications for years. But what's new is that buyers are now biting the bullet on lighter weight modular products -- portable pole and panel systems from companies like Clip and Nimlok.

This trend has been in evidence on the Continent, with Jacob's Suchard, for example, having used Clip systems to display its coffee products in shop foyers across Germany for several years. But it's new in the UK. And even ultra-lightweight systems and pop-ups, like SD Systems' Contour and Nomadic's Instand, are getting a piece of the action.

How do retail display companies feel about this? "While we wouldn't want to tell exhibition companies how to do their job, the exhibitions and retail arenas are two different things," notes Kessler. "What motivates a consumer is different to what motivates someone at an exhibition. We consider ourselves experts in what motivates a consumer."

From the other side of the fence, Nomadic Structures' managing director, Mike Rogers, responds: "The average exhibition attendee is less likely to buy on impulse. In the case of trade exhibitions, they may be talking about large sums of company money. But they are still 'shopping', and any display has to reinforce brand and establish credible corporate identity as well as attracting the individual's attention. At exhibitions, the stand designer has the added problem of competing for attention among a huge variety of weird and wonderful stands, which is not always the case in retail display. …

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