Retail Better: High-Impact In-store Marketing Relies on Repetition 

On the 3000 Mile Store Walk, which is our survey of convenience store marketing, we walk each store from the outside in. We walk the store just like the shoppers walk the stores, from each zone at the street, to the pumps and into the store. It’s all about the customer journey. 

In-store marketing requires time to get each customer’s attention and for them to understand the offer. One of the best practices we see all the time is the way Wawa positions their promotions from the outside in. They do it with strong photography, great graphics, simple headlines and no price point.  

And when you walk a Wawa c-store, you see an impact at the street, at the pumps, at the front of the store, into the store at the decompression zone, and right up to the destination where one orders the sandwich. It’s promoted as “Cheesy, Melty, Toasty.” On a recent store walk, I think I saw the “Cheesy, Melty, Toasty” message about 10 times before I got to the order counter. 

It’s to the point. It makes sense. Repetition Counts. 

Retail Better: Store of Brands vs. Branded Store

When we talk to clients about creating their strategy for their NTI, remodel, or concept store, we always ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to be a branded store or a store of brands?”

It’s the first step to understanding what direction you need to go with your retail environment. A great example of a

“Store of Brands” is 7-Eleven. When you enter one of their stores, you see the house brands they promote from inside the store which include Big Gulp® and Slurpee®. As they roll out the Laredo Taco brand, which is fundamentally an in-house QSR, they’ve introduced another brand to their portfolio.

There are several examples of a branded store and two that immediately come to mind are Wawa and QuikTrip. Wawa has a very loyal customer base that knows the cadence of their promotions. They know the store’s lingo. What they don’t have to know are specific brand names of products in the store. Soft drinks and frozen drinks don’t have any special names. Wawa presents short-term seasonal menu items that are broadly named, and the Gobbler comes to mind. It’s a turkey dinner available as a bowl or a sandwich. It’s a menu item, not a brand.

QuikTrip has their QuikShake®, a milkshake that is made in-store with soft-serve ice cream. It’s also a menu item. But overall, the products in the store are not branded, and QuikTrip has robust base of loyal customers.

There you have it. The Branded Store or the Store of Brands. Both are good strategies. Develop a store that matches your strategy and tells your story.

How to Better Communicate Your Bean-to-Cup Coffee Program to Customers

Over the last two years, bean-to-cup coffee programs have become more and more popular within the convenience store landscape. By individually grounding and brewing the beans, these new high-tech machines promise a fresh, hot cup of coffee on demand.

Putting customers in control of preparing their own brew allows store associates to focus on other tasks. Another positive associated with this innovative coffee service is that it helps eliminate excess waste as described by Kum & Go’s senior category manager, fountain beverages, Connie Kelehan.

What’s not to love.

Change Can Cause Confusion

Whenever retailers introduce new technology, such as bean-to-cup coffeemaking to their customers, situations can arise. As with everything new, there’s a learning curve. Shoppers may not know how to use the new machines.

Adapting to new tech takes a few go-rounds. From that first time standing in front of a “place your own order” sandwich kiosk or “mix-your-own soda” style machine, everyone has experienced that “What do I do?” or “How do I do this?” moment. Whether it’s short on time or other customers lining up, the pressure builds to hurry up and get that order placed. It’s uncomfortable and can lead to a negative customer experience and maybe even a missed sale.

GSP created this easy step-by-by step direction with frame kit signage for MAPCO’s bean-to-cup customers.

How to Create a Better Coffee Making Experience

“A simple way to solve customer confusion is by providing them easy-to-follow instructions illustrating how to use the new machines,” suggests GSP Chief Creative Officer Steven Cohen. “Why not create point-of-purchase (POP) instructions written and designed to match the c-store retailers’ brand?” added Steven.

Here are some examples of how GSP’s team of design, marketing and visual merchandising experts can help develop instructions tailored to your stores and can even provide the hardware system that houses the signage. This system can be switched up with a variety of messaging anytime and is constructed to fit and work with most coffee setups.

Why Stop With Coffee? More Messaging Ideas

In addition to the new brewers, other programs and equipment may seem slightly tricky to shoppers. Clear communication is the key to creating positive customer experiences.

Consider creating similar how-to or simplified step-by-step signage for the following:

  • Rewards and Loyalty Programs – you’ve excited your customer, now make sure they know how and where to download apps, how to earn points or access mobile app offers.
  • Car Wash – from how to pay to possible car wash loyalty programs, put c-store shoppers’ minds at ease as to how to use the equipment or how to earn free future washes.
  • Curbside Pickup – do customers know the drill for picking up curbside or mobile orders? If not, signage letting them know you need the make and model of their vehicle and how long they should expect to wait, can help.

Providing shoppers with a few simple words can go along way when it comes to direction and keeping the flow of customers moving. To hear more tips and tricks or to get started on signage geared toward assisting your customers, contact us today. 

Valentine’s Day 2020 Shopping and Retail Spending

Since 2004, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has been conducting its annual Valentine’s Day consumer spending survey. Wonder how Americans plan on spending and celebrating Feb. 14, 2020? Read on.

NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay says:

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy. Consumers spent freely during the 2019 winter holidays and they appear ready to do the same in the new year. The same strong employment numbers and higher wages that boosted holiday sales should make it easier to spend a little extra to say, ‘I love you’ this year and to spread the gift-giving beyond just your significant other.”

Record Spending for Valentine’s Day 2020

Those celebrating, plan on spending about $196 each, here’s the breakdown:

  • 2020 Valentine’s Day spending is said to be up 21%
    • 2019 Valentine’s Day record was nearly $162
  • 2020 Valentine’s Day spending is expected to total $27.4 billion
  • 2020 Valentine’s Day spending is said to be up 32%
    • 2019 Valentine’s Day record was nearly $20.7 billion

Why Record Spending for Valentine’s Day?

Per the NRF, “This increase in average spending may be due to stronger consumer finances and a continued trend of consumers buying more gifts, cards, candy and flowers for friends, family, co-workers and pets. The increase in total spending comes as the number of people celebrating Valentine’s Day returned to 55%, about average for the past decade, after a dip to 51% last year.”

Who Is Spending Money on Valentine’s Day?

As expected, spouses and significant others are responsible for the biggest share of Valentine’s spending. Spouses and significant others will spend $101 this year, up from $93 in 2019 – note their share of the spending is down almost 10% from a decade ago.

How Much Are Consumers Spending on Valentine’s Day?

Consumers claimed they will spend an average of:

How Much Are Consumers Spending on Valentine’s Day?

Record Amount of Valentine’s Day 2020 Spending on Pets

Shoppers plan on spending $1.7 billion on their, wait for it … PETS! That number is up from 17% in 2010 ─ the highest figure in the history of NRF’s survey.

  • 27% of shoppers plan on purchasing Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets
  • Shoppers will spend a total of $1.7 billion on their fur babies

“We’ve always heard of puppy love, but pets are definitely seeing a larger share of Valentine’s Day spending,” Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist told NRF.

Top 5 Valentine’s Day Gifts – What Are Shoppers Buying?

It’s no surprise candy and greeting cards are the most popular with jewelry and an evening out topping the list on spend. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday, that surely helps increase store traffic and allows shoppers to extend their holiday plans into the weekend.

Gift Item

Percent Buying

Billions Spent

Candy 52% $2.4
Greeting cards 43% $1.3
Date night out 34% $4.3
Flowers 37% $2.3
Jewelry 21% $5.8

Where Are Consumers Shopping This Valentine’s Day?

According to NRF’s survey, the most popular place to shop for loved ones are Department stores. By percentage, here’s where Americans plan on purchasing their Valentine’s Day gifts:

Where Are Consumers Shopping This Valentine’s Day?

GSP provides award-winning marketing, design, visual merchandising, food photography, best-in-class graphics and smart POP program management to more than 70,000 retail locations throughout the U.S. Contact us to learn more.

Fourth of July Retail Spending

From grilling to traveling, NRF’s Independence Day 2019 survey says 86 percent of Americans plan on celebrating Independence Day. Read on for interesting Fourth of July consumer facts and spending stats.

Customers Fuel up and Hit the Road

According to AAA, overall Independence Day travel is expected to rise 4.1 percent over last year. An additional 1.9 million people are planning road trips and other vacations to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“Gas prices are, on average, 17 cents cheaper than Memorial Day weekend, which is welcome news for motorists hitting the road to celebrate the July Fourth holiday,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano. “More so, summer gas prices are poised to continue dropping even lower in coming weeks.”

Lower gas prices are motivating 41.4 million American drivers—the most on record—to hit the road. This is a perfect opportunity for convenience store retailers to convert those fuel-only sales into c-store purchases. With road trippers seeking out snacks, iced coffee, and grab ‘n go items, now’s the time for stores to alert customers of their popular offerings, loyalty programs and promotions.

How Americans Plan to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Though millions will be traveling, others plan on partying, picnicking, barbequing and enjoying fireworks displays with family and friends.

  • 61% are attending cookouts or barbeques
  • 40% are checking out local fireworks
  • 26% of those celebrating plan on making patriotic purchases such as flags, apparel or decorations

Independence Day Sales and Shopping Offers

Retailers traditionally welcome Fourth of July shoppers with deep discounts on everything from mattresses to mowers. Stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, Target and Walmart, just to name a few, celebrate Independence Day by dropping prices, offering coupon codes and running campaigns customers can’t resist. Plus, consumers using the GasBuddy app can score free fuel with purchases from retailers such as Harry and David, Dick’s Sporting Goods and more.

Fourth of July Food Facts

  • $6.78 billion represents the total expected food spending, which is great news for supermarket retailers
  • $73.33 is the average food spending per person, an increase of more than $5 per person since 2014
  • 150 million hot dogs are consumed
  • 700 pounds of chicken is purchased
  • $804 million is spent on beef
  • $1 billion was spent on beer last Fourth of July
  • 68,000,000+ cases of beer are typically purchased – making Independence Day the No. 1 beer-drinking holiday

GSP helps retailers with everything from remodeling their legacy stores to rebranding, marketing, technology and more. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to hear more.

3 Ideas to Boost Summer Beer Sales

Summer is the ideal time to drive traffic to your convenient store or supermarket beer displays. Here are three cost-effective signage ideas sure to capture your beer customers’ attention and generate repeat business all summer long.

Aisle Invaders and 3-D Floor Graphics – Drive traffic to non-refrigerated beer displays with a header, aisle invaders and floor graphics featuring 3-D photography. Create impact and enhance visibility with aisle invaders. Designed and produced with large contour cut beer bottles and combined with graphics that use special photographic techniques allow products to truly pop.

Aisle Invaders and 3-D Floor Graphics
Beer Cave Destination – Brand your beer cave with a brand appropriate name and graphics that fit your stores’ style. Think cool destination over convenience. Use inviting indoor and outdoor store signage to increase visibility and entice customers to visit the beer cave.

Beer Cave Destination
Mix and Match Six-Packs – Incorporate a mix and match six-pack section allowing customers a convenient way to create their own six-pack of beer. Providing a mix and match beer area can also turn one bottle beer purchases into six-pack sales. A “Create Your Own Six-Pack” area gives you the opportunity to spotlight multiple brands while letting craft beer connoisseurs sample a variety of local and regional beers and microbrews.

From beer caves to complete store remodels, GSP’s Design team delivers. Visit our portfolio page and case studies to learn more.

How Online Media is Impacting Modern Graphics

A Look at New Design Trends: Incorporating Flat, Filtered and Lifestyle Images

The proliferation of online media is having major impacts on graphic design and, therefore, on POP design. In the following, GSP’s Design team takes a look at some of the ways that current POP graphics reflect common design trends in online media.


Designers often rely on the use of gradients and lighting to make images appear closer to real-life: a technique known as skeuomorphism. For example, in the “on” button pictured on the right, a designer has made the image look like a real button with special lighting effects. However, in online media, designers are replacing skeuomorphism with “flat” objects like the Off button pictured on the right. Led by changes in app and software design to help browsers and apps look more visually appealing and load faster, downloads of flat design elements have increased by 200% over the past year. “Flat design” is mainly the term given to the style of design in which elements such as drop shadows, gradients and textures are not included.

Designers have moved toward flat design because of its crisp and modern appeal. Simple, flat images allow the design to focus on what is most important: the content and the message. By removing the extra design elements that can easily date their work, designers “future-proof” their creative so that they become relevant for longer periods of time. Flat design also seems to make things look and feel more efficient, by cutting out the “fluff.” Clean, simple and effective—less is more.


With the popularity of mobile apps like Instagram, searches for filtered images soared 661% in 2013, and the trend shows no signs of abating. Adding a filter can give an image a unique feel (i.e. sunny, antique or rustic). These manipulated images can help set the tone of the design for not just a sign, brochure or web site, but for an entire campaign (like the Starbucks campaign shown).


Designs that incorporate lifestyle images with people and products in authentic real-life settings are also a big trend today in online and mobile app advertising as well as in-store graphics. These types of photos are increasingly in demand, up 347%. These images help consumers establish an emotional connection to the design—and essentially to the product advertised.

This growing trend represents a desire for stronger emotional connections. We can all relate to the spectrum of emotions found in these often un-posed compositions: joy, enthusiasm, fun and happiness—making them approachable and enticing for the consumer to try the product.


Shutterstock 2014 Global Design tren Shutterstock 2014 Global Design trend

Closing the Execution Gap With Better Communication - Part 2

Making Your Marketing Plans a Store-level Reality.

In this three-part series, GSP explores strategies for closing the gap between the head-office marketing plan and store-level execution—to prevent bottom line profit from slipping through that gap. Part 1 outlined how better execution starts with better store-level data.

In part two of this series, we outline how to improve execution between the marketing team and the field.

Part 2: Closing the execution gap with better store-level communication

Many retail marketers will claim that they invest as much time in their efforts to ensure marketing plans are executed correctly at the store-level as they do in determining what their marketing strategy should be.

To ensure compliance in the field, marketers will create complex documents that act as Marketing Guides for store employees. And most marketing teams spend a considerable amount of their time in stores simply identifying the types of execution challenges that arise when store employees do not understand how the marketing plan should work in their stores.

But too often these efforts fall short. Marketers struggle to tailor their plans to all of the variations that exist in a large multi-site retailer. Marketing Guides can often create confusion by highlighting programs that may not apply to selected stores. And it is difficult to understand whether the lessons learned in a few stores can be applied throughout the stores.

accustore-mobile-capture-fountainA key opportunity to making the marketing program more effective at the store-level is to make communication between marketing and the field more effective. Here are a couple of suggestions to make that happen:

1. For store rides, develop a process for documenting and sharing opportunities identified. 

Develop a standardized process for riding stores and for recording the challenges that you identify in stores. Consider creating a list of checkpoints for each area of the store to ensure that you are not simply “trolling for errors” when in store. And develop a reporting process for identifying trends across sites and sharing insights with the rest of the organization. A mobile application like AccuStore®, GSP’s proprietary store intelligence software, can assist in structuring store rides and in sharing the findings with key personnel in the organization.

2. Spread store rides across your retail network.

The stores closest to HQ are often the easiest to reach and therefore the least expensive to visit. But the execution in these stores will often reflect a diligence that results from a disproportionate amount of attention from the HQ rather than a solid appreciation for the marketing department’s efforts. To really understand how the field views the marketing program, try to spread store rides across the network. Track the days since each site was visited by marketing to ensure that attention is not disproportionately concentrated in a certain group of stores.

3. Make planners as targeted as possible. 

Make the marketing and operational information in the Marketing Guides as tailored to each specific retail site as possible with precisely the information they need—to help eliminate confusion for the store manager. Automation tools such as AccuStore® will automate this work by generating illustrated, store-specific POP placement guides and promotional summary sheets.

But marketers who do not implement such automation can still “version” planners to catch important variations in merchandising and branding from one site to the next. And, retailers will find that the time spent versioning the planner can often be offset by a reduction in time spent fielding questions from store employees.

4. Add an incentive to ensure implementation.

Incorporate an incentive to ensure the Store-specific Marketing Guides are being read by the Store Managers. They could be trackable when opened so you have a clear picture of which are not being read, and can follow up with those specific stores.

5. Ensure accessibility to monthly Store-specific Marketing Guides. 

Make sure to have the Store-specific Marketing Guides available both online and also as a printable PDF for easy access, and to ensure the Store Managers or employees have two ways to access the planners, and can print them out if they prefer.

6. Include site-specific visual illustrations for sign placement.

Include renders and visual communication wherever possible to help illustrate instructions on how to insert a graphic, assemble hardware or to indicate specific site locations for the different promotions. Automation tools such as AccuStore can automatically generate these store-specific renderings with the current period’s POP for retailers. But even without these tools, retailers should try to include the details of each store’s interior and exterior architectural features in the renders. These targeted sign placement guides will improve compliance, help ensure fast and seamless implementation of new POP and enable store managers to easily audit campaign execution.

Implementing these tips for more effective Store-specific Marketing Guides and targeted communication to the field will help you “get on the same page” with in-store personnel, expedite execution and increase the accuracy of your marketing efforts.

SEE ALSO: The Execution Challenge – Part 1: Closing the Execution Gap With Better Data

Retailer Focus: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

From Umbrellas to Spoons, How a Growing Retailer Brings a Compelling Brand to Life.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Established in 2007, Menchie’s is North America’s largest self-serve frozen yogurt franchise, and has over 380 locations with 400 locations in further development throughout the US, Canada and 15 other countries worldwide. Menchie’s focuses on serving the highest quality product with friendly customer service in an inviting store design.

Menchie’s offers guests premium rotating yogurt flavors and a large variety of toppings for unlimited combinations. And since they incorporate a pay-by-weight formula, guests can serve themselves and enjoy with Menchie’s signature collectible spoons. Click here to watch Ella, Menchie’s spokesperson, demonstrate the mixing options and process.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

In addition to the inviting store design, fresh quality self-serve products and friendly attentive staff, Menchie, the company mascot, is also an integral part in creating a happy atmosphere for guests. Menchie’s operations are standardized for a consistent quality product and in-store experience at any location.

The menu at each store consists of various yogurt flavors, dry goods, and fresh fruits that may vary by region or season. All locations stock branded items and have indoor as well as outdoor seating.

Menchie’s interior décor features whimsical branded
signage and their logo’s bright colors are incorporated in architectural details and throughout the store. The materials used, such as the small green glass tiles on the walls and brushed metal counter provide a modern feel. There are also chalk boards on the walls for children to color.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

The large signage placed above each self-serve station provides simple instructions, and the yogurt/topping signage is easy to read. On the exterior, the Menchie’s sign is prominent and there is adequate outside seating with branded green umbrellas.

Key Marketing/POP lessons from Menchie’s:

  • Utilize large easy-to-read hanging signs for self-service areas
  • Strong brand identifiers with prominent logo, mascot inside and outside the store
  • Loyal to brand – consistent use of green and pink brand colors throughout all store elements
  • In-store brand extensions – take home collectible spoons and branded merchandise help to keep the brand top of mind
  • Inviting, fun atmosphere encourages repeat business
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Menchie’s has set the standard for the yogurt industry by providing a unique customer experience with an inviting self-serve atmosphere. They have created
a successful brand that keeps customers coming back for more. Menchie’s also provides a local gathering place for family and friends to celebrate, relax and have fun.

View our Branding Success Stories Contact Us Today!

Simple does it… a look at McDonald’s POP

Impactful POP with a Focus on Timed Events, Price Impact and the Power of New.

Utilizing inspiration from the “Golden Arches,” McDonald’s sometimes uses simple arch-shaped window graphics to communicate timed promotions, price impact and the power of new products. Below, a review of McDonald’s current POP program:

Create Urgency with Timed Events

mc-donalds-timed-eventsPromotions on specific days create a sense of urgency and drive traffic. Recurring timed events encourage repeat business – customers recall the timed promotions and plan to return for the offering. Highlighting different food promotions on different days is also a good way of appealing to a wider range of customers, creating excitement and will increase sales on those featured items.

Price Impact Draws Attention

Highlighting a low promotional price with large, easy-to-read price points captures consumer attention. McDonald’s window decals are clearly readable to parking lot and street traffic. Lower-priced items like their dollar menu are placed to be visible to the highest traffic areas, ensuring maximum impact.

The Power of New

mc-donalds-timed-events“New” when used correctly can be very powerful. It introduces a product, it says “try me” and can draw attention to an item to create a buzz. “New” works best when used in conjunction with a new product launch. Remember new can’t be new always—examine what new means for you in terms of timing.

Utilize these simple yet effective POP ideas from McDonald’s at your stores—for impactful POP that will deliver results.