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Retail Display—Three Viewpoints That Matter in Today’s Economy

By: Andrew Freedman
Posted: June 22, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

The original design for Estée Lauder provided a side-to-side sliding half tray for product underneath. The redesign houses more product because the drawer can be converted into a full-size tray that completely slides from side to side, revealing the next level below.

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For this reason, the design and quality of displays must perfectly reflect the brand identity. Here is where decisive engineering and outstanding service enables great design.

For example, MAC Cosmetics recently created a display idea that incorporated abstract artwork with unique colors that proved challenging to color-match, and it also sought a totally new texture for the display material. It took nine iterations to reproduce the color correctly and a special vacuum-forming process to create the texture, but it was worth it because image is everything in the beauty industry. That image transcends to how the consumer feels about herself when she buys the product.

At the same time, there’s no denying that the cost considerations of display marketing have become more important than ever.

One way for brand owners to save money is to request displays that can stay on the floor for much longer durations. Hence, not only is the durability of the materials used important, but also the ease of update. So even though a display may sit on the counter for four to five years, the graphics and other brand identity aspects can be refreshed periodically for new product launches as needed.

Another trend involves the shrinking of product planning cycles from annually to as soon as quarterly. Display manufacturers have managed to keep pace through the employment of computer-aided design technologies, rapid-prototyping systems, UV screening and ultrasonic assembly lines and laser cutting and CNC routing systems—all of which allow for rapid and cost-effective deployment of new display faces to keep up with seasonal changes and new product introductions.