By Bob Ingram – 10/24/2017

As food shoppers have become more sophisticated and adventurous in their product choices, so have the signs that guide them both outside and on their in-store travels.
According to Didier Blanc, president of Blanc Display Group, in Dover, N.J., “The trend in signage is in providing consumer education as well as ethnic-related merchandise.”
His company has responded to this trend by introducing the Signature Series and World of Produce Buyer’s Guide headers and ethnic category signage, inspired by cultural awareness and the consumer’s desire to learn and experiment.

“We have also seen a surge in the popularity of our Hispanic-related signage and our ‘Organic’ and ‘Local’ product lines,” Blanc notes. “The spikes correlate to industry trends.”
The company’s Marketplace Chalk line is increasingly popular, creating a farmstand feeling within a store.
“We introduced signage inserts with QR codes,” Blanc notes, “that, when scanned via a free app, offer item information like nutrition, selection and storage tips, recipes, and more, in one convenient location.”

Beyond that, the Fresh Food 411 Interactive Kiosk is what he calls “information central” for savvy shoppers, presenting instantaneous product information in a consumer-friendly style.
Blanc believes that signage will become more and more interactive, differentiating brick-and-mortar stores from their online competition.

“Supermarkets are using a lot of fabric” in new store-sign scenarios, because they can be changed relatively quickly and are inexpensive to ship, says Jimmy Keith, president of Richmond, Va.-based KeithFabry Reprographics.

The company’s latest innovation is a retractable battery-powered banner system that can be as big as 24 feet by 10 feet. The system allows the changing of large displays monthly rather than yearly, enabling more promotions, which keeps the store more interesting and appealing.

Keith observes that quick signs and stanchion signs, as well as magnet signs, are also trending, but that floor graphics “are not as popular as we thought they would be in this industry.” Window clings are very popular, according to Keith, “because they work” as people walk in and see the special of the day.
Signs have a lot more information on them today, he notes; as a result, signs are getting bigger. “Better signage changes the environment. It’s not the same place — customer environment — over and over again,” Keith says. “That makes a big difference.”

The Howard Co., in Brookfield, Wis., offers digital menu boards and digital signage for inside the store and for drive-through or pickup windows outside, and also provides guidance for placement and content.

The content can be changed based on the time of day, with the corporate office having control, says Regional VP Grant Gustke.
“If a small to medium chain is not looking at the digital menu boards or outdoor products, they are falling behind the large chains because they are all doing that already,” he warns. “The technology of touchscreen ordering or ordering on an app is coming, too.”