Signs and their Power in Stores

Even in today’s world of electronic mass communication such as e-mail, social media, and text messaging, traditional methods of delivering information or promoting commercial products still have power, and businesses know this, often employing well-placed, eye-catching, informative signs inside businesses such as grocery stores or other retailers to promote a product or a special deal or discount. In fact, the rise of electronic communication may have ironically made traditional signs and posters more attractive again, since people sometimes get burnt out on electronics and often learn to mistrust them because of viruses in e-mail attachments, or cookies or spyware that track people’s Internet activity to present them with tailored, personal ads. No one ever caught a computer virus from a sign at the grocery store, and this matter of trust, alongside basic human psychology, means that a company’s advertising and graphics design department can figure out the best way to design shelf tags, a printed sign, or grocery store price tags that attract attention and bring over customers. How does this work?

The Power of Signs

In many ways, traditional, physical signs have the same power they always did in spite of such electronic services as YouTube, Twitter, and e-mails. In fact, such signs may be a relief in today’s wired world, and they are well-ingrained in people’s minds as to their purpose and nature. Many studies have been conducted to figure out the effects of signs and how to better design and place them for maximum effect, and a number of trends stand out. For one thing, signs can make use of the immediacy of a physical store; customers are right there, where they can see and touch the products for sale, and signs can help bring customers closer and make use of how customers make impulse decisions. Studies show that shoppers will make 82% of their consumer decisions right there in the store, and signs can help direct a shopper’s decision-making toward a particular product or deal. In fact, it has been found that around 68% of American consumers will make a purchase because of signs that catch their interest.

This expands to not just awareness of a product, but is price, especially in terms of bulk deals, discounts, or more. This is where grocery store signs are augmented by the information conveyed by shelf tags, which may be common anywhere from a regular grocery store to something more specialized like a hardware store or a florist. Shelf tags can make use of bold fonts, bright colors like yellow and red, and color contrasts to make a tag eye-catching, and shelf tags will also use wording and numbers to make a price or a discount seem as appealing as possible. At a grocery store, shelf tags may advertise yogurt cups at four for $1.00, a bulk deal, or a box of cereal marked down by $2.00 to a new, lower price. Hardware stores might advertise a 20% off discount on a power drill, and the new, lower price may have graphics around it to make that new price feel even more exciting, like it’s a thrill that the buyer should not miss out on. In this way, shelf tags will finish the work that grocery signs started, and guide a customer to the best possible prices, deals, and discounts that they could find on their shopping trip.

Some signage can be a combination of these things, especially for smaller stores that rely almost entirely on physical signs and do not have an Internet presence or far-reaching advertising campaign. Price tags for retail, or wholesale retail price tags, may have some of their work accomplished with posters or standing signs where customers may see them. A sandwich shop, coffee shop, or a small bookstore may use a stand-up sign that advertises new products and deals, and lists their prices, so that customers will be drawn in. Shoppers at major retailers will have a much bigger inventory to go through, so regular shelf tags will be needed, but a sandwich shop may have a sign saying “10% off sandwiches Monday” or “new books 15% off weekend only” and other messages to that effect. The possibilities are almost endless.

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