Display Graphics At Retail Stores: Effectiveness

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Retail Display Graphics: Effectiveness

Effective use of color, creating a focal point, storytelling, exposing customers to the maximum amount of merchandise, effective use of empty space in the stores, ensuring legibility, and the symbols are things that make display graphics in a retail grocery store environment effective.


While we found information on what makes display graphics in a retail grocery store environment compelling, we were unable to find sufficient sources for the types of graphics that are most impactful/compelling to shoppers specifically in grocery stores. Since it was explicitly requested, our first strategy was to look for newer Popai studies specifically in the US. Although we found one published in 2017, it was not based in the US.

We also searched for articles, research studies, and reports via sources such as Entrepreneur, Forbes, Research Gate, The Balance SMB, and Sign industry but found no information on the types of graphics that are most impactful/compelling specifically in grocery stores or supermarkets. Most results found via this strategy were from retail and other industries. Since we were not able to find any information on the grocery store or supermarket, we expand to retail in general. We also provided information on the elements of navigational signs in grocery stores as additional information.


The following elements should be considered when using display graphics at retail stores in general, as well as in grocery stores when creating navigational signs.


Color can decide the success of visual displays. As such, even when an erratic graphics display is created, it can still turn out successful if coordinated well. Contrasting colors like monochromatic colors such as white and black create interesting, eye-catching displays. Color can be used in words, symbols or in the background of signs to create category distinctions and leverage well-established associations with products. Green can be used for fresh food/vegetable sections of grocery stores while using blue for frozen food sections. For example, Shikatani Lacroix used unique colors for each of M&M Food Market and Calgary Co-op's departments to guide customers to the products they are searching for while creating distinct color blocks for various areas.


Creating a hotspot or focal point can increase sales by 229%. When creating a display, the customer’s point of view which includes the top, the floor, and both sides should be considered such that, for instance, the focal point is not too high or low for the customer to easily view. The focal point is the product and should stand out.


Storytelling is the aspect of the graphics display that helps customers understand the product and reach a buying decision. Doing this requires using compelling, sales-enabling signage to display the benefits of acquiring the product. Storytelling can be done effectively with three bullet points that make it evident to the customers why they need the product or how the product will make their lives easier. As long as there is a story, the display does not have to be worded. For example, although lifestyle graphics usually lack words, the images tell the story.

4. visual representations

Imagery, graphics, and food photography make communication more effective. At a distance, it is often easier to see visual aids than words; compelling photography attracts shoppers to explore specific sections. For example, M&M Food Market uses food photography above each section name to help augment the message which also makes the products and the environment more appealing. As well, Calgary Co-op, uses large fruit and vegetable graphics draw customers’ attention to the "Our Harvest" department.


Graphic displays at retail stores should be as many as possible with the aim of exposing the customer the merchandise while keeping aisles spacious and barrier-free to avoid dissuading customers from products. Many retailers use a circular store layout because, compared to traditional aisles, it creates the opportunity to expose customers to more merchandise. In case the store uses the traditional aisles, the display should be placed in the dead center to encourage customers to stop and take a look at the products. The more they see, the more they buy.


The space between the displayed merchandise and the ceiling is the most underutilized in all retail stores. This space can be used to display signage that provides information on products or brands, customer testimonials with their names and pictures, the profile of a designer or supplier, or lifestyle graphics that help customers make emotional associations with the products.


Using interesting fonts help to create a store's personality, but above that, it has to be legible. While a Script font adds decor and can be used to set the tone or personality of a store effectively, it should not be used for aisle signage. Appropriately sized, clear fonts like sans serif fonts make it easier to communicate with customers, helping them take information readily from different distances. On that note, elements like lighting and the signage material used must also be considered.


The use of symbols in displays can help in surmounting language barriers, and communicating with customers that prefer visual cues, or reinforcing category distinctions in a grocery store. An example of this is Calgary Co-Op's use of cow and chicken symbols to help customers locate the meat department, and the use of symbols of band-aids, health, and hearts to identify the pharmacy department. Also, M&M Food Market uses snowflakes and thermometer symbols along with blue color to help identify the “Frozen Fresh” section.


Strategically locating signage at grocery stores allows customers to find the information they need quickly. As such, creating a wayfinding strategy map could come in handy in providing directional cues. Signage should be placed high enough such that visibility is not obstructed but not too high to ensure that it remains noticeable. Key traffic areas and walkways are strategic places to display signage at grocery stores, increasing exposure as customers move about in the store.

Directional signage that is legible and colorful with imagery and graphics is essential to the experience of a store, creating less stressful visits for customers and helping stores to build loyalty better.


According to a study, price appeal in in-store display promotion is more effective than non-price promotions. Also, the study also found that displays graphics that are close to the cash point or payment register were the most effective in terms of driving sales. The authors posit that the reason the register or cash point location is most effective may be because "customers are likely to have to wait for a few minutes until their order is taken," thereby creating the opportunity to process the displayed content.

A report by Entrepreneur Magazine claims that digital signage can increase brand awareness by up to 47.7% and the average purchase amount by almost 30%. The reason digital signage is effective is because of its relevance, allowing brands to advertise "the right message, to the right consumer, at the right time."