Visual Noise to Some,
Marketing Music
to Others
But what happens when so many
marketing messages vie for space in
stores that do not have a stadium-size
playing field? It can get busy out there.
A recent walk around Lowery’s Liquor &
Wine Company in Queens, NY showed
a somewhat haphazard approach to POS
pieces and distribution. One display
window was dominated by oversized Jack
Daniel’s bottles, another by a Bulldog Gin
display highlighting the botanicals used in
the gin, along with two tall beakers filled
with plastic lemons. A third, however,
still boasted its Halloween display for
Jaegermeister months after the holiday.
Inside, the large and well-stocked
store included a few lingering value-added
gift-pack displays from the holiday season,
and it was hard to turn in any direction
without seeing hand-written discount
signs for various wine labels. Sparsely
distributed tasting notes and scores (only
90 or above) on wines appeared to be a
mix of PDF printouts and supplied lami-
nated pieces. Collars—the sort consisting
of small booklets on elastic bands around
bottle necks—were predominantly found
on bourbon and whiskey bottles. A
small basket of minis rotates every week
or two promoting popular brands and
new expressions.
Yet there is method amid the mad-
ness-at-first-glance. Shelf talkers at Low-
ery’s often direct customers to additional
product or information behind the coun-
ter. Handmade signage guides customers
to older expressions of a displayed whis-
ky, warehoused inventory and alternate
bottle sizes. Hard-to-categorize bever-
ages, like Thailand’s Monsoon Valley
Wines, are provided extra signage (“Thai
wines for Thai food”), presumably to as-
sist customers who may not even know to
ask why these wines are found alongside
Asian sakés and plum wines, rather than
amongst other Shirazes and Pinot Noirs.
And in the big picture, while the visual ef-
fect at Lowery’s might be seen as chaos in
a small boutique, the multifarious stimuli
are not scaring or baffling many shoppers
in Queens.
The biggest issue facing spirits market-
ers (and, to a lesser extent, wine and beer)
these days, however, may not be as simple
as hi-tech flash vs lo-tech cardboard. POS
was and always will be about engaging
customers at the moment of purchase;
but strategies with this intent depend in
large part on shoppers accepting market-
ing messages in general. “Customers are
the most fickle beings on Earth,” accord-
ing to Zagardo. “I’ve been in this several
decades now, and seen it back when you
could construct a concrete monument for
a bottle, because the brand didn’t change.
Now, the customer is brutally fickle. Take
the flavored rums: a flavor will be hot for
45 days. The old rule used to be that you
looked at sales reports and saw you were
selling two bottles one week, then four,
then eight. So the next week I should get
12 bottles, right? Wrong! They’re on to
the new flavor, and it happens very, very
quickly. Bacardi gets it. You have to be
able to move on your in-store market-
ing quickly, you have to adjust quantities
quickly so we don’t kill a trend.”
The dual function of floor display racks
remains constant—saving space and attracting
attention—but the graphics being employed have
never been more advanced. Seen here: displays
for Motos Liberty wines; Tito’s Vodka; and Don
& Sons wines (Smoking Loon, Project Paso,
Pepperwood Grove).
When relative value is the key point of a display,
make sure prices are loud and clear. Bold price
signs at Lowery’s in Queens, NY, may seem garish,
but they deliver on the store’s exterior sign that
promises “Discount Wine & Liquors.”
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