Natural Foods Merchandiser

Design a great end cap

When it comes to end caps, style really does matter, says Cristian Campos, author of New Supermarket Design (HarperCollins, 2007). "If someone has worked on the design of an end cap, that suggests they care about it and have enough money to do it, which means their products are successful, which means no one has died eating them before you, which means 'good to eat.'" Here are Campos' tips on how to make end caps into solid marketing pieces.

Don't get too fancy. No matter how brilliant your idea, chances are it's been done before. Stick to clean lines and easy access to the products. Ideally, your displays should be in a semicircle, allowing customers to see product from the front and sides. Curved end caps also guide customers from one aisle to the other.

Load it up. "Few products in a display make your store look like a Communist supermarket," Campos says.

Use a theme. End caps that promote only one product or a group of related products are best. Otherwise, the customer has to mentally classify the display, which takes too much work.

Incorporate color psychology. The brain processes yellow the fastest of all colors, so it draws the most attention. A green background on your end cap suggests health but is a bad idea for a meat display because it implies rotten rather than fresh. Blue is ideal for fun food like snacks. Warm colors like red and orange imply heat, which is not good for frozen or refrigerated products. Avoid muted earth tones in the food-design biz, and be aware that although bright primary colors are great for kids' displays, they can scream "cheap" to adults.

Don't forget the signs. "Allow some space under the product—not to the left or two shelves below—for displaying all the basic information: name, brand and price," Campos says. "This is obvious, but only a few stores follow it."

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