By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Graphic displays are popular in both indoor and outdoor settings. However, display options tasked with sitting outside for long periods of time require care and durability. From flags to banners, tents, canopies, portable counters, and a variety of displays are available to withstand outdoor demands.
As businesses and consumers struggle through novel coronavirus upticks, outdoor displays have become a common sight to signify curbside pick up locations for restaurants and retail establishments. These signs also draw attention to COVID-19 testing locations and provide instructions for appropriate distancing when standing in line.
Prior to COVID-19, outdoor graphic displays also cropped up at pop-up events like fairs, festivals, mud runs, road races, and charity walks. Once the social distancing standards and protocols finally start to wane, expect the need for this type of graphic display to continue.
Driving Demand for Outdoor Displays
Outdoor display solutions like banners, flags, tents, and street banners are effective in generating attention for safety, instructional, wayfinding, and promotional messaging. With a lengthly list of opportunities, there is a real need for digitally printed graphics and the hardware to display them.
Banner stands have remained a key category of displays for many years. Natalie Whited, VP of marketing, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, points out that amidst COVID-19, they are still in demand as people need to dictate new safety standards and protocols. This also holds true for outdoor displays and flags for businesses that have shifted to curbside services. These solutions are effective in communicating important information, including hours of operation, process changes, and resources for information during a time when people want to reduce face-to-face interactions.
“With the pandemic and state-by-state regulations in place, outdoor displays are seeing their largest use yet,” shares Mike Morrison, national sales director, WS Display. “Outdoor events along with mandates that encourage outdoor activities over indoor gatherings is the main push for outdoor displays being marketed at this time. Placement of these are commonly in high-traffic areas, including entrance, exit, and main throughways at an outdoor event.”
Paula Goodelman, VP of sales, Testrite Visual Products, points out that outside foot traffic doesn’t necessarily lead to walk-ins, “but if you grab the consumers attention with outdoor signage and they decide to come in, and then decide to make a purchase, you are talking about a very small investment for a big return.”
“The pandemic is the single most applicable driving force for the demand in outdoor signage. In addition, with many states allowing for a staggered reopening of businesses across the U.S., reopening signage along with marketing updates for business is another major contributing factor to the surge in sales in this category,” adds Morrison.
Eric Miller, president, Tiger Presentations, says right now, outdoor dining is a leading driver of demand for custom, temporary outdoor bar/counters. People want to go out to eat, and restaurants want to define their space with a counter and signage.
While outdoor display systems are a straightforward concept, continued advancements focus on ease of use, portability, and durability.
Morrison believes the advancement in construction of outdoor hardware is centered on many points. For instance, spring loaded devices help with maneuvering in the wind and elements, heavy-duty stakes and weighted devices offer stability, and water-filled bases add significant weight to outdoor banners. “Materials that last longer in the outdoors are also selected for longevity in these categories of products,” he comments.
The portability and durability of outdoor displays is a key component of their popularity. Whited says restaurants and small cafes that used to have more of an indoor presence are using tents to house patrons and temporary shops are popping up outdoors, making tents and signage more appealing as people participate in more outdoor events.
“Our portable lightweight counters are designed for quick assembly at ever-changing locations,” states Miller. The process for setting them up is quick and easy. A business can carry the counter in on a carrying bag with a shoulder strap and spend two minutes setting it up. From there, attach graphics that draw the attention of an audience and it is good to go. “Graphics can be easily replaced to help you customize messaging as needed. The structures are made from food-grade plastics that are not effected by the weather and are easy to clean.”
Trends to Consider
Several noteworthy considerations come to mind in terms of selecting display hardware for outdoor use.
For example, Morrison suggests finding materials that carry some type of warranty or at minimum, ones that are made with heavy-duty quality materials to assure the longest use and best value for the end user.
Miller adds that business to consumer companies are constantly looking for ways to engage with their customers and having lightweight and portable counter solutions allow them to increasingly do this.
“A majority of Consort’s outdoor product-related sales are the hardware products for which our customers and resellers provide the graphics. The increased durability and added features of the hardware allows them to confidently provide outdoor displays that they may not have been doing in the past,” according to Roger Lepley, president, Consort Display Group. “Customization or personalization is exceptionally easy nowadays with durable, UV-resistant digital graphics. Also, most graphic artists are well-versed in the latest graphics programs, so design and implementation are generally at a more rapid pace than in the past.”
Whited points out that Orbus allows companies to purchase not only stocked hardware, but pre-printed graphics or messaging as well as graphic design services. This allows print providers to offer these services, even without in-house capabilities. Banner stands, tents, and even certain personal protection equipment is available through the display hardware and print provider. “We can act as the man behind the iron curtain, providing what customers need so they don’t have to turn that business away,” she adds.
The display graphic industry has been shaken to its core by COVID-19. While demand for display solutions for trade shows and events evaporated nearly overnight, a new need for outdoor graphics arose—often adopted by companies with no obvious reason to invest in these solutions prior to the pandemic.
In part two we discuss popular display hardware for outdoor use as well as highlight specific products.
Jan21, Digital Output