8 dynamic demo stand design tips for vendors

By Andy Youings. 24th April 2019

When a brand like Coca-Cola wants to advertise, they don’t leave a can of soda on a street and hope someone sees it – they hire huge billboards or on-street screens to grab people’s attention.

A demo stand is essentially an in-store billboard – a striking and enticing structure to make people stop, stare and care. In a crowded environment like a Costco warehouse, the stand is arguably more important than the product itself. Get it right and you’ll attract a willing, interested stream of shoppers to come and try and (hopefully) buy. Get it wrong and, well, no-one will take a second look.

Great design is more than just good looks, however. Here, we’ve singled out eight factors that vendors should take into consideration when designing their stands, and why they matter. Brands and brand ambassadors take note.

  1. Make it stand out

In a substantial space like Costco, with multiple brands competing for attention, a stand needs to stand out to compete. You can differentiate yourself through unique design, strong colour coordination, a large, imposing stand or a combination of all three. The Vanish super demo we ran in store recently used bold brand colours and a large amount of physical space to really make a powerful impression. In in-store lingo, a super demo usually runs for at least a week, at multiple locations within the warehouse over the course of the event and includes a range of optional branded extras – from bespoke counters and full graphic banners to TV installations. Perfect for making a substantial splash.

  1. Make it strong

A busy Saturday afternoon in Costco can get somewhat hectic – trolleys dart back and forth and customers jostle elbow to elbow to experience new products via free tasters. In such an environment, accidents can happen, so your stand needs to be ready for anything – the sturdier, the better. The table wrap dual demo we ran for Britvic recently was a reinforced cube-shaped table – able to withstand significant impacts from busy shoppers or clumsy workers. The only moving parts were the products themselves, but sturdiness didn’t mean ugliness. With branding signage wrapped around the front of the display, the stand had the dual benefit of being visually striking, too.

  1. Keep it simple

There is a delicate balance between brand and retailer. Costco’s ethos is one of delivering “the best possible prices on quality, brand-name merchandise”, so it’s unlikely to favour elaborate diamanté-showered stands with grand designs. It’s easy to get carried away with design, particularly when the brand wants to do something special, but keeping it simple doesn’t necessarily mean “boring”, it just means clean, clear and to the point.

For simple stand designs, a single demo is the most cost-effective way to get your product directly into the hands of consumers. This kind of demo is super-focused and runs for one day with a single WDS brand ambassador working from a standard demonstration unit. A recent in-store we did for Philips used an elegant unit focused solely on the brand’s hair removal device, Lumea. The RRP of a Lumea is £120, which is pretty pricey. But the stand wasn’t ostentatious in any way, it was clean and to the point: we let the product do the talking.

  1. Keep it flexible

Such is the nature of in-store that you may end up having to move to a different area at some point during an event. That’s not easy if you have a slab of immovable metal and a banner the size of Russia. Flexibility is the answer. It’s critical that the stand is flexible enough to work in a number of configurations in smaller or differently shaped spaces. Ferrero has exemplified this concept with their display, which takes a modular approach by using pallets that can be arranged either in a line or in a square shape depending on their location.

  1. Consider the setup

With POS, things are often built on the same day, so setup needs to be quick and simple. Pop-up and pull-ups that are shipped flat and can be assembled in seconds always tend to work best. Gillette uses quick and easy pull-up banners, but the use of powerful imagery means that they still grab shoppers’ attention. Similarly, a giant 4k screen and projector, strobe lights and dry ice might seem like a good way to grab attention, but if you need a team of roadies and an 18-wheeler to get your stand in, something’s not right. Gillette also used a simple TV display on their stand which showed the product in action but only took minutes to set up. Not quite pyrotechnics and fireworks, but a simple solution that is visually appealing and also links to the brands wider TV advertising in order to trigger consumer recall.

  1. Dress to impress

Wholesale might not be the most pristine environment, but good design and a focus on a great finish can help you overcome that. We ran an event just before Christmas with Diageo on their Singleton Whisky brand, displaying the product with skirts that were given a subtle barrel effect to distract the eye from the less attractive pallets and to reinforce the brand.

  1. Link to the wider brand

Branding is all about consistency – creating a mental shortcut for customers so they recognise you in all settings. So, if your stand doesn’t match your brand, you’re missing a trick. Think colours, typography, copy, imagery, straplines: all should sync with your established brand. Oral-B’s latest stand summed this ethos up nicely with a demo that almost felt like a dentist’s office, reinforcing the brand’s heavy ties to the industry. In short: think outside the shop.

  1. Don’t forget the brand ambassador

Ultimately, the demonstrator is more than just a salesperson, they are a brand ambassador. As such, they are as much a part of the stand as the visuals and the product. There are many tiny touches that make a big difference to sampling success for brand ambassadors, but attire is high on the list. The branded clothing worn by Lindt brand ambassadors is a perfect example of this in action: the detailing and care put into the aprons speak to the luxury nature and esteem of the brand itself.

Strength and simplicity

Stand design should always be strong and simple. Strength of vision, physical strength and strength of branding and simplicity of message, setup and execution. These are the key principles underpinning all eight points above and are at the heart of all the examples featured. Whatever your budget and whatever you’re selling, these should be the two words at the heart of every design and every successful demo campaign.

For more information on our single, dual and super demo services at Costco, click here to discover which demo is right for you.