Floor Graphics: Walking into Opportunity
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Floor Graphics: Walking into Opportunity

The floor graphics concept was ahead of its time a few years ago, but if you haven’t gotten into this side of the business yet, there is no time like the present.

By Jennifer LeClaire

According to BIG Images, floor graphics can increase sales by up to 20 to 30 percent and have become part and parcel of marketing packages at larger stores and retail chains. Are you walking into this opportunity?

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  • Floor graphics aren’t exactly the latest innovation in vinyl, but it is an opportunity that’s finally beginning to gain some momentum in the marketplace. You’ve probably seen them in your local grocery store, convenience stores, gas stations, shopping malls, airports, museums, libraries, retail outlets ­ and the list goes on.

    If you haven’t ventured into the floor graphics arena, then the time is now. Opportunity is staring you in the face. Consider the statistics. According to BIG Images, floor graphics can increase sales by up to 20 to 30 percent. The market for printing these floor graphics, BIG Images estimated, is projected to grow to $2 billion in the next four years. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” (That gives you some ammunition to sell them to would-be clients.)

    “With a price of $13.75/sqft, the advertising opportunity is very cost-effective compared to radio, newspaper, and other more traditional methods,” says Jon Beebe, founding partner of BIG Images, a large format printing and technology company in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “Floor graphics are inexpensive enough to use as short-term signage, and durable enough to use as long-term signage.”

    The Psychology of the Floor
    Joseph S. King, Ph.D. a professor of psychology and director of the Honors Academy at Radford University in Radford, Va., penned an article entitled “The Psychology of the Floor.” The article describes the floor as a potentially useful source of advertising information. He contends that we are programmed by nature to pay attention to the ground, and that our attention can be redirected to the floor first by novelty and later by relevant messages.

    What’s more, King explains, attention directed downward narrows our attention focus. In other words, looking at the floor focuses our attention and the content becomes relevant, impacting the consumer at the point of decision. This Orienting Reflex approach psychologists have studied is valid with rubber mats that offer messages, the IntelliMat digital floor device and, of course, floor graphics. The bottom line: messages on the floor can capture the attention of consumers and influence their buying habits. That’s why retailers are picking up on floor signage.

    “Psychology is the study of things that impact people’s thoughts and behavior. We rarely think of the floor as anything other than something that holds us off the ground, if indeed we think of the floor at all,” King wrote in his paper.

    “Seldom would we actually think of the floor as a medium that presents a communication opportunity - however, many of us will recall the old mats that greeted us at every storefront advertising soft drinks or other merchandise. In their traditional manifestation, floor mats hardly impact our lives in any meaningful psychological sense ­ that is what makes this subject rather counterintuitive.”

    The Non-Scientific Proof in the Pudding
    For all the psychology and science to support floor advertising, there is anecdotal evidence that sign and print shops are getting busier dealing with vinyl floor graphics requests. In fact, the market is getting more sophisticated with special materials to support the trend.

    “Floor graphics are being used more and more every day,” says Troy Downey owner APE Wraps, a digital graphics and wraps company in San Diego, California. “All the vinyl manufacturers are generating great material for floor graphics.”

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    For those of you who are yawning and saying, “I heard all of this 10 years ago. Floor graphics was supposed to explode and it never did,” look again.

    Jeff Stadelman, technical marketing manager for vinyl manufacturer MACTac Graphic Products, says he used to get requests for floor graphic materials every few months. Now, he’s seeing the demand pick up on a weekly basis. And it’s not just interiors, either. “I see outdoor floor graphics starting to grow, too,” Stadelman says. “There are short-term applications for printing onto concrete or asphalt. The demand for street graphics is growing.”

    Who Is the Floor Graphics Customer?
    While there are multiple venues for floor graphics, there are some settings that are more likely to adopt them than others. Specifically, point of purchase advertisers. In fact, I.T. Strategies predicts wide-format POP signage is already a $7.6 billion market.

    If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this predictive data from the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute: POP spending is estimated at over $17 billion, or 7.1 percent of the overall $240 billion spent on ads in the United States.

    “Floor graphics are an inexpensive and novel way to create brand awareness, especially in retail environments. Most customers don’t choose the brand they’ll buy until they’re in the store — strategically placed floor graphics influence this decision,” Beebe explains. “Typically the image is placed directly in the customer’s line of sight as they look where they walk.”

    Grocery stores and retail are not the only application, Beebe offers. Floor graphics are a great way to improve safety by placing warnings in key locations. They also can act as event signage, helping to direct traffic. Beebe has even seen his customers use footprints (or puppy-prints) to help guide foot traffic. Floor graphics are catching on at trade shows, bank lobbies, car dealerships, high school and college basketball courts, museum exhibits, night clubs and other interior applications, according to Beebe.

    Before you rush into this opportunity ­ and it is a real opportunity ­ be warned that floor graphics demand a specialized print process. Few print shops have the production capabilities today. BIG Images’ print production facility, however, does have the capability. So if you are looking to get into the floor graphics game and leverage the revenues of this new marketing tool, then contact the company and they’ll help get you started.

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