What to anticipate when budgeting for your visual merchandising campaign

Even with the best marketing plan, your budget is crucial to success. The goal is to get the most value and impact from every dollar.

With visual merchandising—signage, shoppable displays, and in-store marketing—this is especially true.

You may have a vision for how your visual merchandising elements will disrupt the customer buying journey, but there are costs to consider.

How do you allocate for the availability of materials, varying timelines, and other aspects outside your control? It depends on a number of factors, and you can learn a lot about stretching your marketing budget from different industries.

We asked four members of our team to weigh in on how they talk to clients about budgeting.

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) visual merchandising budget tips

While CPG brands often develop the elements for their promotional campaigns in-house, they often lean on their field service teams to determine the in-store mix.

The folks on the ground better understand which creative components will work best in each store based on customer demographics, store type, and store footprints. Those components are scaled to work in each store and packaged into toolkits that can include anywhere from a few to 30 items for each campaign.

Field service reps then work with individual store management to coordinate assembly and positioning.

The budgeting benefits are significant.

Instead of overproducing components that won’t be used, this approach leans on practical expertise to determine what will be utilized and deliver the best return on investment.

So, what CPG considerations can impact the budgeting process?

Budgeting tip: Know the landscape

Regardless of your channel, you need to know where your promotions will be displayed and what variances you’ll need to account for. Some stores, for example, may have twice the space of others so the displays will need to scale.

Budgeting tip: Link merchandising and marketing

You also need to ensure that there’s a strong connection between the merchandising and marketing teams. That doesn’t mean you have to have a field service team, but there should be some connection to make certain that there’s no waste and each toolkit is fitted for individual stores.

Budgeting tip: Follow brand standards

Of course, make sure to take brand standards and other requirements into account. That will help your team avoid any reproductions and rework to fit standards and approvals.

Deliver effective CPG campaign elements & stay on budget.

Big-box retailer and larger brand store visual merchandising budget tips

Big-box retailers and larger national and international brands look for creative ways to stretch their money. They may opt for creative displays that may incorporate three-dimensional elements, motion, and sound. All of those involve multiple elements, which are less expensive to ship when boxed together.

For that reason, these retailers may plan, design, and ship all of their seasonal promotions together to save on shipping. For spring, they may do 20 different displays in department stores. Instead of sending 20 separate kit boxes, they send one kit with all of the displays for the season. The freight savings can make room in the budget for flexibility elsewhere.

What major considerations can impact the budgeting process for visual merchandising in retail?

Budgeting tip: Plan ahead

We recently published a blog about spring and summer seasonal displays where we emphasized the importance of early planning. Major retailers set a great example for all companies that want to save on freight costs by planning seasonally.

Budgeting tip: Test in high-profile locations first

Another tactic major retailers use is deploying displays in top-selling stores first to make sure they’re effective before rolling them out to other locations. A variation of this tactic is to deploy premium elements first. Both save time and money from budgets as well.

Budgeting tip: Consider a hub-and-spoke shipping strategy

Rather than shipping to each store individually, retailers with many locations across the country can save time and money with a hub-and-spoke model. Here, campaign materials are shipped to a handful of key locations in different regions. From there, elements are dispersed to stores directly. This model works even better when working with a commercial printer that has production capabilities strategically located throughout the country, ensuring two- or three- day shipping for all.

"Retailers tend to do a lot of combo programs because shipping is expensive."

Tammie Davies
National Retailer Channel

Large grocery chain visual merchandising budget tips

When we work with large grocery chains, it’s a multi-step process that can start months—even a year—in advance. Typically, we start with an initial concept and provide “good, better, best” options to choose from. Many times, our clients choose elements from each to create the perfect solution for their campaign, but giving them choices helps maximize the available budget.

These displays typically involve larger footprints in the stores and often multiple endcaps, so coordination is important. Based on the grocer’s budget, we can add dimensional elements such as lights, different print methods, and more.

What major considerations can impact the budgeting process for visual merchandising in grocery stores?

Budgeting tip: Be flexible

Clients can easily fall into the trap of becoming attached to certain materials or specific sizes to accomplish their goals. However, if you rely on your commercial print partner to provide options, you may be surprised by the solution.

Budgeting tip: Consider assembly costs

Think about assembly and the costs associated with shipping fully assembled versus knocked-down displays. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of resources to put your displays together once they are delivered.

"Remember to be flexible on sizing. Inches can translate to thousands of dollars in materials and shipping."

Brad Pruitt
Large Grocery Chain Channel

Value retailer visual merchandising budget tips

One of the biggest considerations for value retailers when they are budgeting is to make sure they can take advantage of the CPG promotions usually available only to tier one retailers. Not every value retailer has a dedicated team, so it’s important to be clear about goals and desired results.

3 steps to maximize your visual merchandising campaign budget

There are a number of creative ways value retailers can add value and maximize visual merchandising budgets.

  1. Value engineering
    Budget constraints don’t need to mean fewer elements in your campaign. Look for ways to save money in freight by value engineering design elements to be smaller. That includes shipping flat and rolled, which allows elements to take up less space as opposed to a fully assembled display that will require multiple trucks.
  2. Managing expectations
    Is it a real brick, or does it just look like a brick?

    If you select just the right materials and print techniques you can simulate more expensive materials at a lower cost. It just depends on your requirements and flexibility.

    The more your designers know about what you’re trying to accomplish, the more effectively displays can be produced to create that “wow” factor.
  3. Color matching
    Ensure your commercial printing partner has design and printing technology that eliminates disparity in color across materials so you won’t have to reprint. This requires detailed press checks to ensure every element you receive, regardless of what it’s made of, matches perfectly.

"Value retailers can make the mistake of waiting to finalize their budgets. That may result in them missing out on allocation opportunities."

Shelley Bluhm
Value Retailer Channel

What signage and visual merchandising executions does your campaign need? Contact us to find out what Imagine can create for your promotional campaign! 

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