A Commitment to Solar Power Pays Dividends

Solar Roof - Great Northern Instore

In 2010, Rich Carrigan, then President of United Displaycraft, decided to take on a significant energy conservation initiative by implementing a solar array installation at its manufacturing facility in Des Plaines, IL. The solar solution was easy, maintenance-free, and provided such a quick return on investment that he decided to ‘double-down’ and expand capability in 2014. It was the largest solar array installation in the state of Illinois. The investment in solar has paid for itself multiple times over. Read More…

Holiday Audits and Insights with Great Northern Instore

2016 has gotten off to a fast start, with January already wrapped up.  And retail is already discussing Holiday 2016!  Great Northern Instore captured the trends and insights from the season that just wrapped up.  Our national team visited more than 40 stores across the country from East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast.  These audits encompassed many different retail environments:  mass, drug, grocery, club, and many specialty outlets.  To streamline the process, we utilized a Cloud based app to request and collect the data from the team.

We categorized our findings into three different retail solutions:  1) Building Experiences and Events, 2) Connecting with the Connected Shopper, and 3) What the Shopper Wants.

Shoppers visit stores based on a particular mission or need.  During the holiday time, this can include gift hunting for family and friends, finding items to decorate the home, or getting all the things needed for that special holiday party.  From our questionnaire, we saw about 75% of stores had a holiday themed entrance to welcome the shopper (what happened to the other 25% of stores?).  Retailers like Target and Walmart devote well merchandised holiday sections that get the shopper in the holiday mood.  Across the board, brick and mortar retailers tried to bring the holiday wonder back to the shopping experience.

In order to reach the connected shopper, several manufacturers leveraged the Pinterest logo on their store displays in the grocery channel.  These manufacturers were highlighting the social content that showed the creative holiday uses of their products.  Home Depot created special displays that demonstrated their online assortment, especially bulky lawn ornaments.  It offered free shipping for these items, so the shopper could browse their selection and not be concerned about transporting the item home on their own.

Gift cards continue to grow as a convenient gift idea.  Displays have gotten more elaborate, with curves, angles, and even executions shaped as gift boxes.  Continuing the theme of providing the customer what they want, this holiday season of Star Wars came to life at all retail outlets.  Displays ranged from simple signage to elaborate 3D models of characters, such as the beloved R2D2.  Finally stores and manufacturers offered programs that provided solutions, making the shopping experience easier.  From power supply and battery solutions, gift wrapping stations, to baking centers…there were some great executions that made it easier for the shopper.

Reach out to us for a full review.  We are experts are turning insights into business driving instore solutions.

More Shopper Insights:

Retail Holiday Insights with Great Northern Instore

What is Shopper Marketing?

Back to School with Shopper Marketing Insights


Retail Holiday Insights with Great Northern Instore

It is a busy season!  Our time is filled with getting ready for great times; holiday parties, gift giving, and time spent with friends and family.  Great Northern Instore has been hard at work as well, in the busiest season for retail.  Building our library of insights, our team has been auditing stores across the country and keeping our ears open for the latest insights and strategies that are being executed instore.  As an early holiday present, we are sharing some of our initial findings.

First, according to Deloitte’s 2015 holiday study and the National Retailer Federation, this is shaping up to be a great season for holiday spending.  The economy is continuing its gradual improvement, with households finally feeling a little better about spending.  Obviously, there is gift shopping and holiday preparations, but shoppers are also more likely to spend on themselves as well.  Jewelry, gift cards, and food/liquor are categories that have trended up over the past five years.

Continuing the trend, brick and mortar retailers are building bigger events and experiences to bring back wonder to the holiday shopping season.  Music, Santa visits, and grand merchandising displays beckon shoppers and create a reason for the family to stop and shop in a store.  These elaborate displays set the mood and also help the stressed shopper find the right gift or solution.

There are also great examples this season of strong omnichannel campaigns to win the wallet of the ever valuable shopper that engages across platforms.  Retailers agree this shopper spends more.  We observed some great campaigns that are connected with the consumer throughout the entire shopping process, including instore, the final moment of choice.

Great Northern Instore looks forward to hearing from you, to share and apply the insights we have gained this season.  Insights are great stocking stuffers that lead to the real present, a great execution that activates on an insight, getting the shopper to engage.  That is where Great Northern Instore can help your brand win.  A full holiday report will be completed as we enter the 2016.

Have a very Merry Christmas, and best wishes for 2016!  Enjoy the holiday season with your friends and family, the preparation is worth it.

More Shopper Marketing Insights:

What is Shopper Marketing?

Back to School with Shopper Marketing Insights



What is Shopper Marketing?

“Ask ten different people how they define shopper marketing and one gets ten different answers.”
2014 HUB Magazine article

While shopper marketing is still evolving, we know the path is clear. Gone are the days when consumer goods companies controlled the market and could generate demand by placing a commercial on the big three networks. Retail consolidation created powerful companies which are now fighting to continue the growth. This has led to renewed focus on the shopper.

Shopper Marketing focuses on applying insights to connect with shoppers, along their path to purchase. According to leading agencies and the publisher of “Shopper Marketing,” the Path to Purchase Institute, today’s shopper marketers strive to identify the key purchase decision triggers for their products and execute solutions that drive their business performance. Sounds simple, but it requires strong knowledge of product, retail, the shopper target, and the growing toolkit of vehicles that can reach the target. It is a cross-functional task that requires a deft orchestration of multiple layers.

The shopper marketing toolkit includes a rapidly growing, innovative portfolio of vehicles that reach the target throughout their shopping journey. Using ever sophisticated targeting techniques, including the use of detailed shopper data, these marketers can ensure the right message reaches the right target via direct mail, mobile, digital, and social tools.

Instore marketing, a traditional tool, is still a critical component of a shopper marketing campaign. Ninety-three percent of all 2015 retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores. Many examples and studies demonstrate how a fully integrated home-through-store campaign yields the best results. Foresight ROI has combined several studies and created an ROI index benchmark. Shopper programs with only pre-store vehicles net an index of 70, versus a fully integrated pre-store and in-store campaign achieves an index of 121. Leading retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are utilizing this integrated approach to win, instore.

Great Northern Instore is an expert at turning insights into successful activations at the point of purchase. We understand how insights need to tie an integrated campaign together. In fact, we will be presenting at the Path to Purchase Shopper Marketing Expo in October on this very topic. In this presentation, we will highlight how insights help create a successful shopper campaign, with a winning, interactive instore execution. Sign up for the presentation and stop by our booth. If you can’t wait, contact us today! 800.558.4711 | www.www.greatnortherninstore.com

Visit our Shopper Insights page to learn more!

Back to School with Shopper Marketing Insights

Back to School

Leadership is about having a greater vision of where to go to achieve success.  It also requires using influence to help guide others to successfully achieve their goals, driving for the greater good.  As a point of purchase architect and manufacturer, we strive to help our customers achieve their ultimate goals of business success.  To be able to do this, we must understand the retail environment and the constantly evolving trends that rapidly changing shopping behaviors are shaping.

Great Northern InStore - Back to School

Utilizing the coverage of our nationally based team, we perform regular retail audits using a prescribed formula.  It starts with a simple step; defining the scope of the upcoming audit.  Great Northern Instore covers Back to School, fall activities, holiday season, and spring events in relevant retail environments.

Once the scope is determined, we do our homework:  research.  This is critical a critical step to accomplish before going into stores.  We utilize our industry associations, insight partnerships, and comb retail sources.  This helps us identify upcoming trends and strategies that will be employed.  Some initial store visits in key markets help us set up hypotheses for our auditors to prove or disprove.

We then create audit assignments, covering the key retail channels, top retailers, and geographies across the country.  Having team members spread from the east coast to California helps us understand regional programs.  The specific assignments help us efficiently reach the right stores and focus on the right content.

We are then ready to visit our favorite place, the retail floor.  We consider the entire environment, entrance, racetrack, middle-store, seasonal areas, and checkout.  We are also utilizing mobile survey technology to make the most of our team members’ time and streamline the data gathering process.

Then it all must come together.  A deck of pictures alone does not provide insights.  We compare the data to our hypotheses.  We sort the pictures, consider each auditor’s commentary and begin sewing the threads of data into a story, identifying key insights that are being used.  We weave in our upfront research, fully understanding what is happening across the entire path to purchase;  we understand the entire shopping cycle does not take place only in the store…it is a path.  Understanding how all the pieces fit together in this process helps us design in store programs that reach maximum success as part of an integrated marketing effort.

Then delivery…providing a meaningful presentation where Great Northern Instore teams and our clients all benefit.  A success help all learn the applicable insights, how they were applied, and how we can leap from the present to create a more impactful future program.  We will sit down and deliver the results with our design department present, to use the information as a springboard to innovate and create the next program that both your brand and the retailer will get behind.

This July, we applied this process to the Back to School season.  We visited Walmart, Target, Kroger, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens, Staples, Office Depot, Dollar General, Sam’s and Costco.  We noticed three broad retail solutions being applied.

#1  Retailers are making a strong marketing and merchandising push during this #2 season for them.  This includes out of store tactics ranging from the traditional to experimenting with digital tools.  To varying degrees, these efforts were connected to how they dressed their stores for the occasion.  The development of a theme is meant to capture the occasion based mission of a parent needing to shop for the requirements of their child’s school + items that would set them up for success (What parent doesn’t want their child to succeed?).

#2  We all know Moms/parents are very busy.  Their day is hectic…to stand out retailers look to make Back to School shopping easy.  Providing extra copies of school lists, helping navigation with color blocks or large product imagery, and adding windows to deep dump bins so the shopper can easily see what’s inside are some of the tactics that are being employed.

#3  Social media has exploded.  Parents are looking to their networks to help make sure they are buying the best products for their children.  This pertains to both quality and cost.  Many campaigns were tested by retailers, but surprisingly little was pulled into the store environment.


It does not end with these insights.  Contact Great Northern Instore so our experts can use these starting points to innovate a program for your products.  After all, brick and mortar retailers are looking for solutions, as they are losing Back to School market share to online competitors.  We can help you provide that solution, and be a leader.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?