By Jodi Sawyer
At the most recent Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Expo, which took place in October 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev., the Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA) delivered a number of educational and networking opportunities for wide-format printing professionals, graphic installers and product manufacturers. Hands-on demonstrations and open discussions fostered collaboration and learning, as specialists shared their day-to-day successes, lessons about expanding into new markets and how to help advertising agencies and brand managers better engage their customers.
The PDAA’s own master certified installers demonstrated wrapping and other graphic application methods using wide-format media. Presentations covered walls, windows, counters and other surfaces, while also addressing market trends, new materials and application challenges and solutions, with a focus on educating both printing and installation communities, as well as clients.
Floor, carpet and counter graphics
Floor graphics have been used in the retail sector for years to help shoppers find products on shelves or to direct their attention to special merchandising promotions. Studies have shown they typically result in a seven to 16 per cent sales lift.
Recently, the sign industry has seen a plethora of new options to enhance these ads. Clear materials, for example, allow the existing floor surface to become part of the design and provide a greater sense of dimension.
There are also thin-gauge full-coverage materials in clear, white, opaque, silver or brushed-silver variations to visually transform an entire store aisle, taking the shopper-engagement experience to a new level. In addition to branding elements, these films can use printed textures to create environmental effects, like grass, wood, rocks and water.
In high-traffic carpeted areas, on the other hand, new durable overlaminates are helping carpet graphics resist heel punctures, reduce lifting and delivery improved clarity compared to the thinner-gauged overlaminates.
Floor graphic materials can also now better match the look and feel of the products they are advertising, extending a continuity of branding from the store shelves. Metallic graphics, for example, can provide the same appearance that is becoming common in packaging effects printing, such as on beer cases.
Retail stores and restaurants often use counter graphics, too, as a resource for customers, displaying new promotions and product information. These decals can help boost impulse purchases, as customers at the checkout counter are suddenly aware or reminded of a product they could use or simply forgot to pick up.
With today’s films, counter graphics can offer both esthetic and functional performance. They appear sharp and crisp for close viewing, remain durable and abrasion-resistant for the span of an advertising campaign and are easily removed and changed out regularly as new promotions come along. This combination of traits has become important for quick-service restaurants (QSRs), many of which are increasingly turning to counter graphics to highlight newly introduced products right in front of their customers, whether specific to one location or as part of a national or international campaign.
There are specialty films that offer prismatic effects to capture customers’ attention and non-adhesive ‘grippers’—with clear or black laminates—for a distinctive look and feel. And there are more films available today that look and feel like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but entail a smaller carbon footprint, with less negative impact on the environment.