By Melissa Donovan
Display and point of purchase (POP) graphics utilize every available surface to capture the consumer’s attention. This includes, but isn’t limited to, walls, partitions, windows, ceilings, countertops, and floors. Each offer “wow” factor when paired with the correct media and imagery.
Floor graphics regularly generate glances, as people are constantly looking down at their feet while walking or browsing on their phones. When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, floor graphics shined, playing an instrumental role in social distancing. While this is no longer as necessary or popular as it once was, floor graphics continue to thrive in advertising and POP scenarios.
Above: Nekoosa’s Walk-On Graphics are recommended for use on smooth, clean, flat surfaces.
Spike in Popularity
The buzz surrounding floor graphics during the initial stages of the pandemic has quieted down. With the over saturation of this application used for social distancing its been challenging to get back to floor graphics’ usage for promotional purposes. However, it is apparent all of the many advantages remain.
“During the pandemic there was a mad rush to get social distance guidelines out to the masses and the overkill of floor graphics was born. As people begin to come back out, they want to experience more of life pre-pandemic, so the directional floor graphics and the six-foot spacing squares on the floor are being removed,” explains Ryan Allen, regional technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphic Solutions.
Nate Goodman, product manager, Mactac, points out that “COVID-19 graphics were more instructional signage than the normal promotional messaging that we are used to. Since these types of messages are no longer used, the design has changed but the purpose remains the same and COVID-19 has even conditioned people to look at the floor more.”
Daniel Farias, technical engineer, Drytac Canada Inc., admits that “it is possible, with the relative normalization of the pandemic situation, that floor graphics have lost some of the buzz they had during the pandemic, and some companies might have overused it. However, this doesn’t mean floor graphics are no longer a valuable tool for retailers and other businesses. Floor graphics can still play an important role in visual merchandising and in-store marketing, helping to create a more immersive shopping experience and drive customer engagement and sales.”
Roy Ritchie, president, DreamScape, does not believe there’s been an over saturation of floor graphics, but shares just how beneficial this application can be. “For example, if a brand has a temporary in-store promotion, adding graphics to the floor will enhance their space, help define it, and attract eyeballs. Plus, if the space your POP display or fixtures are located in will have unattractive floors, adding a large floor graphic is an excellent solution to transform that space into a more attractive environment for your promotion and products.”
“Imagine if just five percent of floorspace was utilized for advertising campaigns in grocery stores alone on average that would be 2,100 square feet per store. The space is there, and just like the checkout lane has suggestive selling products, the same can be said for the floor graphic with a quick response (QR) code and discount or link to recipes or product tips. It adds value to the customer to choose that product,” explains Steve Yarbrough, customer experience manager, Neschen Inc.
To overcome deterrents toward floor graphics, print providers need to think of new ways to successfully sell them, especially in display and POP. “Now is the time to reintroduce floor graphics as a revenue producer. The floor space can be sold to brands for advertising space; brands can drive revenue by innovative and inviting graphics that entice consumers to choose their products,” suggests Mike Richardson, business development manager, graphics media, Jessup Manufacturing Company.
“Print providers should do their homework, be intentional with designs, and impress clients with exciting, bright colorful graphics that draw the eye and get the message across. In my opinion, there is always space for floor graphics if they are done correctly. With the right designs and messaging, they continue to be powerful,” says Michael Aldrich, product manager, FDC Graphic Films, Inc.
Angel Georgiou, senior marketing specialist, imaging supplies, Canon Solutions America, believes it’s time to get more creative in how we use floor graphics. “I think a lot of people forgot how to use the floor—even directional signage and area visibility in a point of sale environment—since there is still a lot of COVID-19 signage that hasn’t been removed. Floor graphics can be attention getters, there are so many more options than just a logo or product advertisement.”
“If you use floor graphics as part of the experience and are intentional with your branding, they provide an excellent addition to any display or POP advertising,” recommends Bill Rothe, EVP clear sales, Better Life Technology.
There will always be demand for effective advertising solutions, and this is something print service providers (PSPs) must convey to their customers. “They need to communicate the many benefits of floor graphics such as it’s an easy and cost-effective way to communicate a message, they’re versatile and can be used to promote a range of products and services, and they can be placed in locations that are highly visible and accessible to shoppers. PSPs should also focus on providing solutions that are more sustainable, made from eco-friendly materials, and provide more durability. This helps establish their products as a more responsible choice for retailers and businesses,” shares Farias.
Another suggestion, educate on where floor graphics can be used, expanding into outside of stores on sidewalks and even parking lots, shares Micah Causey, VP, FloorSignage, LLC. “Graphics placed in these locations provide initial exposure to customers before they enter a store and are inundated with a plethora of signage and advertising messages inside.”
Trends in Retail
Display and POP signage is predominately seen in retail environments. For floor graphics to remain relevant, it’s important they address certain trends in imagery, dimensional size, messaging, and turnover.
“In recent years, floor graphics in retail environments have become more dynamic and engaging, with an emphasis on bold colors, high-quality imagery, and eye-catching designs. This is due to the growing importance of visual merchandising and in-store marketing, which are seen as key drivers of customer engagement and sales. Retailers and brands use floor graphics to create an immersive shopping experience and to communicate their message in an impactful way,” says Farias.
An example, points out Aldrich, is in grocery stores. “What’s trending in grocery store aisles is graphics indicating a product in that specific aisle is for sale or sponsored by a company. For example, Bud Lite may be advertising a new flavor of beer for the Super Bowl. These can also be used to promote other products in the store to get your attention.”
One way to make the advertisement more immersive—make it larger. “There is also a growing trend towards larger floor graphics, with retailers and brands looking to create impactful visuals that can be seen from a distance. This is especially effective in large, open spaces like malls and airports, where floor graphics are used to create a sense of direction and guide customers to specific areas of the store,” continues Farias.
Rothe says so far in 2023 he’s received inquiries that involve larger size floor graphics. These are included in display quotes and being used as part of the overall experience.
“There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes for graphics because of the custom nature of the application. I would say most common is wayfinding and instructional signage that is medium to small in size,” adds Goodman.
When it comes to messaging, Allen notices directional signage and signage with a call to action are trends from the pandemic that have continued. People still also use QR codes for anything from menus to in-store specials.
“There is tremendous opportunity to reimagine helpful advertising space, especially with the post-pandemic increase in comfort with using QR codes. Creativity for POP campaigns focused on customer engagement and convenient product or event information can inject life and activity into this marketing space,” agrees Matt Edwards, product manager for digital print media solutions, General Formulations.
Turnover is quick in retail. As such, “we hear that many end users are demanding products that can be easily applied and removed by their staff rather than professional installers,” says Causey.
“Floor graphics in POP and advertising environments are updated or replaced on a regular basis. Retail environments change advertising campaigns and promotional deals frequently, so floor graphics supporting those campaigns need to be updated or replaced to stay relevant and effective,” notes Farias.
POP and advertising environments tend to be short term—less than three months—according to Richardson. “These floor graphics are used for a shopping season, for example back to school. In grocery we see floor graphics in the checkout areas, these may be brand promotions or invitations to join the retail store’s loyalty points program.”
“The turnover is usually focused on specialty or sale products that are marketed. A constantly turning graphic at a certain location can be very profitable for a converter if it is sold as a bi-weekly or monthly changeout,” advises Allen.
Edwin Ramos, director of sales, ACCO Brands, says “you want it to be noticed, not something that blends in all the time. Changing out graphics to match what’s popular with the season will help promotional efforts.”
Anti-slip floor graphics are important—you can read more about the topic on page 24. But, we could argue that graphics with slip resistance are even more important in high-traffic areas. These include retail as well restaurants or hospitality locations, any place where a floor graphic is used for POP and advertising purposes. To ensure the right media is used for the job, a PSP must conduct due diligence.
“The level of traffic, floor material, and environment play a big part on selecting the right material. A one-step product may be suitable based on duration but ink durability should also be considered. Two-step systems utilizing a overlaminate to protect the graphics are much more resilient but cost more. The more you understand about the application and customer’s expectation, the better you recommend the right product to service the need in the most economical manner,” advises Dave Ofstein, quality manager, Nekoosa.
Farias notes it is also important for “print providers to work closely with their clients to understand their specific needs and to provide recommendations on materials, testing, and best practices for installation, maintenance, and cleaning to guarantee the safety and longevity of the floor graphics.”
Specific needs, listed by Richardson, might include how long the end customer expects the graphic to be in use. Does the end use customer expect the graphic to look just as bright and clean on day 90 as it did on day one? Will this graphic be placed indoors or outdoors? Will the graphic encounter oily liquids, water, spilled drink, or a dropped french fry? Do you expect the graphic will need to be cleaned? If so how, mop, pressure washer, or floor scrubber? What kind of traffic will it encounter, foot traffic only or could it encounter cars, forklifts, or dollies?
Traffic is more than just pedestrian-related, it could be turning wheels from shopping carts, rolling luggage, or even floor cleaning equipment, points out Causey. “It is important to note that high levels of traffic will take its toll on the product and wear down its slip-resistant property requiring the customer to monitor the graphics and have them replaced as needed.”
Avoiding an accident because of a floor graphic is paramount. “No one wants a shopper to slip and fall from the result of their floor graphic not being properly tested and certified. Whenever the conversation comes up about floor graphics, print providers need to make sure the product carries a valid certification,” stresses Ritchie.
“The print provider must know the materials and laminates. Choosing a product on preference or price is not the answer when it comes to a POP or high-traffic area floor graphic. Choosing a material because it has the proper certifications and is made for that type of application can be the difference between a lawsuit or a lasting product,” advises Allen.
You can’t use any old substrate. “It might be tempting to use available materials to create floor graphics, but it’s important to use durable floor graphic laminates and base materials to ensure the best possible performance and safety,” says Edwards.
“You might have a great slip rating on a laminate, yet you put it on a cheap or an incorrect print media and it lifts causing a trip hazard, or it simply just gets destroyed. When choosing floor graphics materials, it is essential they are suitable and safe for their intended environment,” recommends Yarbrough.
Even after installation, floor graphics should be checked repeatedly to avoid any accidents. “It is very important that where there is heavy traffic the floor graphic is inspected frequently and has the appropriate slip resistance for the location. The edges could get kicked up over time and it could cause a completely different type of hazard,” notes Goodman.
A Powerful Presence
With the rise of floor graphics during the COVID-19 pandemic this application still packs a punch in the advertising world. There are an array of opportunities available to marketers looking to utilize floor graphics for promotional purposes.
We discuss floor graphics’ powerful presence in display and POP as well as anti-slip certification requirements in our recent webinar, which is available on digitaloutput.net/webinars.
Apr2023, Digital Output