Maneuvering through the sales and marketing world of consumer packaged goods retail channels can sometimes be challenging due to the terms and communication that are utilized. We at CPGBrokers & Associates, developed a glossary to guide you through:

— A —


A sign in which two sides are joined at the top by a cross brace to form an “A” shape. Often used at curbsides or outside store entrances.


A style of corrugated shipper in which the structure of the display forms the shape of an “A.”

Above-the-line advertising

Any form of advertising for which a commission or fee is paid to a recognized advertising agency operating on behalf of a client. The term most commonly refers to mass media advertising through television, radio and print; it also is used to compare brand-building advertising strategies with sales-driving promotional tactics, or below-the-line advertising.

Accelerated purchase

A specific goal set by a brand to have shoppers and retailers buy a product faster than expected or planned for.

Accent lighting

A touch of lighting that is used to emphasize part of a shopper marketing display.

Acceptable price range

Product prices that buyers and shoppers are willing to pay.


The retailer’s agreement to support a manufacturer’s marketing program.

Account opener

A premium or incentive offered to a prospective buyer to secure purchase. The term is used most commonly in the financial services industry.

Account-specific promotion

Marketing activity that’s customized by a product manufacturer for a specific retail partner. Typically used in reference to campaigns in which the retailer is not involved in development but simply accepts the product manufacturer’s program.


Promotional allowances accumulated by manufacturers or suppliers for their retail or wholesale customers. Typically calculated as a percentage of the product invoice price.

Accrual fund

Promotional payments that build up over time based on purchase volume and can be “redeemed” in a future period.


Very popular display material because it has half the weight of glass but can withstand four times the impact. It resists most cleaning agents, and while it can be scratched, polishing can remove marks. Common uses in P-O-P: jewelry cases, lenses, edge-lit accents and faux glass shelves.

Action aisle

A store aisle in which promotional items are displayed. Also referred to as a “power aisle.”

Action Alley

A store’s main thoroughfare, often the first sales area that customers see upon entering, and considered to be prime real estate for promotional merchandising. Originally used to denote Wal-Mart’s power aisles, the term is now often used generally. The alleys, in general, can be found up front, near checkout, or in the back of the store.


1. The implementation or execution of a marketing plan2. A purchase action taken by a shopper that’s triggered by an in-store marketing activity (display, discount, sign, promotion, impulse, etc.)3. The translation of shopper insights into actionable marketing activity.

Actual weekly reach

The number of people, confirmed by audit, reached through marketing activity.

ACV (All commodity volume)

The total annual dollar volume in a given geography expressed as a percentage (or share) of the total market for that commodity.

Ad impressions

Historically used in TV and other mass media to express the number of viewers exposed to an advertising vehicle (one impression equals one view). “Unique impressions” factors out multiple views by the same people.

Ad reprint holder

A frame or other device used to encase reprints of circular pages or other advertisements. These are typically displayed on tabletops or stanchions.

Ad slick

Product or promotion graphics provided by marketers to retailers or publishers for reproduction in ads.

Adaptive selling

A practice that encourages salespeople to alter their interaction with the customer based on the nature of the selling situation.


Additional, secondary merchandise that can be included in a sale.


An acronym for “area of dominant influence,” which defines designated market areas based on media coverage.


Product categories on-shelf or product departments located next to each other within a retail store.

Advanced premium

An up-front reward or takeaway presented to a new customer as a means of generating goodwill and enticing future purchases.

Advertised brand

A nationally advertised brand.

Advertising allowance

A payment made by the product manufacturer to the retailer in exchange for delivering advertising opportunities to a specific product or brand.

Advertising specialty

Inexpensive branded toys or gifts such as key rings, pens, T-shirts, etc. used as premiums. Less commonly referred to as “advertising novelty.”

Advertising substantiation

A Federal Trade Commission regulation that requires advertisers to document claims made in ads.

Advertising weight

The amount of media advertising supporting a brand over a particular time period, usually measured in gross rating points. see GRP.

Advertising/marketing effectiveness

An assessment of the impact made by a marketing program, measured by sales lift, brand awareness levels and various other parameters.

Advocacy advertising

Ads supporting or opposing a social or political issue.


Legitimate proof of posting by the vendor that the advertiser’s message ran as scheduled.

Affiliated chain

A group of non-competing stores operating under an alliance to benefit from volume purchasing or to gain exclusive territorial rights to market certain products.

Affiliated retailer

A retailer participating in an affiliated chain; or a retailer participating with other retailers in cooperative wholesale purchasing.

Affiliated wholesaler

A wholesaler that hosts a group of affiliated retailers; or a wholesaler who is a member of an affiliated wholesaler group.

Affinity marketing

The practice of marketing to the interests of specific demographic or shopper groups.


Secondary sales related to repairs, replacement parts or additions to a primary piece of equipment. Most commonly used to refer to the automotive aftermarket, which covers all products and services that an automobile owner might buy.

Agency of record (AOR)

An agency that has been designated as a marketer’s primary partner and often hired on retainer.


Broadly defining and grouping a shopper segment under a universal concept or theme.

Aided recall

In measuring advertising recall, a technique in which the interviewer prompts the respondent’s memory with cues. (“Do you remember seeing any ads for Coke?”).

Air right display

A display hanging above shoppers and product.


A store corridor, flanked by fixtures carrying shelves of product.

Aisle blocker

A movable merchandiser used to block a closed checkout lane.

Aisle directory

Navigational signage that identifies the aisle’s product assortment. Usually suspended from the ceiling or attached to an end-aisle display. It sometimes also carries brand-specific ad messages.

Aisle jumper

A wire extending above an open aisle that sometimes carries branded flags and pennants.

Aisle signage

(See aisle directory.) Navigational signage that designates the aisle’s product assortment. Typically deployed as ceiling hangers or at aisle ends.

Aisle violator

A sign hanging perpendicular to the shelf on which it is attached, thereby sticking out into (“violating”) the aisle. Most commonly used to identify rectangular signs that span more than one shelf width.


The practice of visually grouping store elements in a harmonious way.

All commodity volume

See ACV.

Allocation (or allotment)

1. Term for the designated quantity of merchandise made available or sold to a specific market area or retailer; often reflects a limited quantity, usually less than a full order.2. The shelf or secondary display space designated for a specific product.


A payment or invoice discount given by a product manufacturer to a retailer as an incentive for a variety of actions, including prompt invoice payment, volume purchase, and promotional activity such as temporary price reductions or circular ads. Sometimes delivered in the form of free product, but more frequently a monetary transaction.

Alpha/beta testing

Two-pronged method of testing a new product’s likelihood of success through internal (alpha) and marketplace (beta) tests.

Alternative media

Term used to describe non-traditional channels of advertising. Its scope varies by the viewpoint of the practitioner, but universally is understood to exclude mass media advertising. In-store marketing is still considered “alternative” in some marketing circles, although that opinion is gradually diminishing.

Altruistic display

A product display that contains products from outside parties that did not pay for its manufacture or placement. Also used to describe the inclusion of a non-participating product within a store-wide seasonal program or other campaign.

Ambient lighting

The use of lighting to help create a particular atmosphere or mood within a store.


Association of National Advertisers.

Ancillary businesses

Secondary businesses that a retailer operates within the primary retail operation (e.g., photo processing, optical, food court, travel, gas stations, etc.).


Stands for “Analysis of Covariance.” These are terms added at the end of a research study that look for any variability between the test group and control group over time.


The American National Standards Institute.

Antitrust laws

A series of Federal laws created to establish fair trade practices and outlaw anti-competitive activity.  The most important are:

  1. Clayton Act, which makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to require that a retailer not sell a competing product as a condition of any distribution deal, in cases where such actions lessen competition or create a monopoly. The act also places restrictions on other exclusive deals.
  2. Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibits a wide range of actions that would result in restraint of trade of commerce.
  3. Robinson-Patman Act, also known as the Anti-Price Discrimination Act, which prohibits manufacturers from giving price discounts or other preferential treatment to certain retailers when the result could be restraint of competition.


Agency of Record. A designation given by a client to signify a marketing agency’s role as the primary source of a particular service or services.


An area outside a gas station or other retail outlet in which merchandise displays are placed.


Signage running above an aisle from one gondola to another.

Area of dominant influence

See ADI.


A common abbreviation for “Assistant Store Manager.”


1. The program through which certain items are ordered to be shipped by a vendor to a warehouse and then to a store.2. Building a display from component parts.3. The area of a P-O-P production facility devoted to assembling and kitting display components.

Assortment display

A product display designed to give customers a choice — color, size or other variable.

Attach-to-merchandise display

A display that attaches directly to the merchandise. The display usually provides some necessary informational messaging.

Attend and assist (A/A)

Shorthand for the assignment of attending a store remodel/set up and assisting as required.

Audio shelf talker

A static sign attached to a shelf enhanced by the addition of customized audio capabilities, usually activated by push button or motion detection.

Audio-video display

A product display enhanced by electronic components that present audio and/or video messages to shoppers.


1. A survey of store conditions, usually conducted by third-party merchandising firms. Among the more common tasks performed are analysis of primary shelf position and conditions, price checks, audit of competitor product sets, and checks for the presence of specific secondary P-O-P displays and promotional materials.2. The process of verifying retail compliance of shopper marketing activity through physical checks, typically in a representative sample of stores. Any observable condition can be measured, including location, copy, display activity, out-of-stocks, etc.3. Customer profile and usage studies conducted via interviews with shoppers in or outside the store.

Authorized list

Chain-approved vendors and products.

Authorized stock item

A product or SKU that has been approved for merchandising by a store’s corporate or wholesale buying headquarters.

Automatic distribution

A process through which the retailer’s headquarters (or authorized wholesale grocer) approves and delivers new products, deals or special promotional stock to key stores without specific order from store managers.

Available market

The number of consumers identified as having an interest in a product or service, access to its purchase and the financial means to purchase it.

Average ticket (receipt)

The average dollar amount spent by a shopper.


The ability of consumers to remember information about a brand, ad or promotion to which they were exposed. “Unaided awareness” refers to the ability to recall without assistance; “aided awareness” refers to cases in which the consumer’s recall was prompted. See aided recall and unaided awareness.

— B —

B flute corrugated paperboard

A specific wave shape (flute) in the inner portion of combined corrugated board. It measures 3/32 of an inch. Considered the most common corrugate for P-O-P.


A delivery truck drops off goods from Party A at a store or destination and then picks up items from Party B for delivery during the return leg. Keeping trucks full both ways lowers operational costs.

Back haul allowance (BHA)

A fee charged by retailers to pick up shipments at the manufacturer’s distribution center.

Back order

A product currently not in stock but being reordered.

Backroom (or back office)

The non-sales storage area, usually in the back of the store, where shipments are received and overstock is kept; in cynical merchandising circles, the place where approved displays often go to die.

Back tag

A product-identifier card for peg hooks or spring-loaded shelves that appears when the product is out of stock.

Back up merchandise

A surplus of product made available for restocking in-store displays.

Backbar display

A display designed for use on the counter or wall behind the bar in pubs, restaurants or other “on-premise” channels.

Backlit display

A display that utilizes a fluorescent bulb or other lighting system to illuminate a film transparency or graphic from behind.

Bait and switch

Luring shoppers to a store with ads for a low-priced product, then attempting to sell them a more expensive alternative once they get there. Widely considered to be an unethical practice.


A machine that breaks down cardboard.


1. An in-store sign, generally produced from satin, poplin, poly-cotton and vinyl.2. The name under which a retail chain operates; the name that appears on the outside of the store (e.g., Jewel is a banner of Albertsons).

Banner ad

Ads placed alongside content displayed on web pages, interactive kiosks or video screens, often featuring dynamic graphics, user interactivity and the ability to track the number of times the ad was viewed and clicked on by viewers.

Banner ad impressions

The number of times a banner ad is displayed for viewing on a web page, interactive kiosk or video system.

Bar code

A scannable line graphic on packaging that contains a product’s Universal Product Code and other identifying information. See UPC.

Bar code scanner

A device that reads bar codes. Portable versions are sometimes referred to as “handhelds” or “wands.”

Basket ring

Somewhat muddled term for the amount spent by a shopper or shoppers, apparently referring to the accumulation of products and the sound of a cash register.

Base wrap

A roll of paper or corrugate featuring repeating graphics that can be cut to various lengths and used to decorate or conceal the bottom cases of a mass display.

Below-the-line advertising

Marketing tactics that do not earn a commission for advertising agencies, and therefore are viewed more as pass-through expenses than revenue generators. They include P-O-P advertising, direct mail and all types of consumer promotion. The term has a somewhat negative connotation, in that it refers to tactics that focus on driving sales rather than building brands and, therefore, are not “strategic.”


A performance measurement or standard that future activity can be measured against.


(See Benchmark.) The process by which companies, following pre-established guidelines for disclosure, share best business practices with other companies. Generally focusing on one aspect of business (credit procedures, distribution procedures, etc.).

Benchmarking study

A study that identifies performance measurements and standards for a specific industry, product category, or other group, thereby allowing individual entities to compare their performance with peers.


Commonly used shorthand for Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR.

Best Food Day (BFD)

The day of the week a daily newspaper usually carries its largest volume of retail grocery ads.


A large outdoor advertising display.


Creation of a large branded presence through a display or other in-store marketing vehicle.


A merchandiser that carries loose or bulk product. More commonly referred to as a “dump bin.”


The ability of a material to be broken down into simpler compounds by microorganisms.

Black Friday

Considered to be the official start of the holiday selling season, the day after Thanksgiving.

Blister pack

A package with a translucent, molded plastic casing that covers a product and is attached to a piece of cardstock or other durable substrate.


A coordinated, rapid rollout of a marketing program.

Blow molding

Manufacturing process utilized to produce lightweight, hollow parts, ranging in size from small to relatively large. Hollow parts require less plastic, and consequently shorter cooling time, producing a faster molding cycle.

Body copy

Informational text on a display or promotional piece; smaller in size compared with a headline or subhead callout copy.


Abbreviation for a “buy-one-get-one” offer, a type of price promotion in which the shopper gets a second (or third) item at special discount with purchase of the first. Often used to denote a “buy-one-get-one free” offer, which technically is a BOGOF.


Abbreviation for “buy-one-get-one-free.”

Bonus pack

A special package that contains additional product at no extra cost.


Two TV ads, usually 15 seconds each, that run at the beginning and at the end of a commercial break.

Borrowed interest promotion

A promotion that leverages the recognition and impact of a well-known event or personality to gain shoppers’ attention.

Bottle glorifier

This display highlights a single bottle or bottles of liquor, wine or beer, often placed behind the counter in bars, restaurants and pubs. Many feature illumination and graphics to draw attention and generate trial of the product among bar patrons. See also Backbar display.

Bottle hanger

Also called a “neck hanger.” An ad sign or tag that hangs around the neck of a bottle. Largely seen in the wine and liquor industry.

Bottle pourer

A branded plastic or metal piece that fits over the top of a liquor bottle. Usually limits pouring.


The trademarked name of a product or group of products.

Brand affinity

The goodwill that a brand has established among consumers.

Brand block

Merchandising practice in which all of a brand’s SKUs are stocked contiguously on the shelf, thereby creating a de facto billboard. Procter & Gamble’s Tide is often noted for having one of the strongest brand blocks in the packaged goods world.

Brand equity

The value of a brand as defined by consumer attitudes toward its stated attributes, product performance and perceived status.

Brand manager

The person responsible for planning and coordinating all marketing activity for a specific brand.

Bright Ideas

A Walmart weekly program, introduced in 2009, that makes product sampling and demonstrations an integral part of the store experience. The program is managed by Shopper Events LLC, Bentonville, Ark.

Brown goods

A term for consumer electronics, especially smaller items like clock radios. The term “white goods” can refer either to bedroom/bathroom linens or major kitchen appliances.

— C —

C flute corrugate

A specific wave shape in the inner portion of combined corrugated board that measures 9/64 of an inch in height. Used most widely for materials that require increased strength.


Commonly used abbreviation for convenience store.


Abbreviation for “convenience and petroleum” store, the latter of which does not sell additional merchandise.

CAD (computer aided design)

Computer software used widely for designing product displays and other marketing materials.


A coordinated effort to market a product, often including an overview of advertising schedules and the various media and tactics to be employed.


An action that generates sales in one respect by decreasing sales in another. Examples include the addition of new stores to a market, thereby drawing away customers from existing locations, or the launch of a line extension that attracts users of the flagship product. Also used in regard to the potential for promotional tactics, such as coupons, to reduce profits through their redemption by loyal product users who would have paid full price.


The practice of visiting retailers in a particular market for a specific marketing purpose.

Capacity fixtures

Displays designed to carry fast-selling products.

Captive audience

Consumers who, due to circumstances of time and place, are almost guaranteed to be exposed to a marketing message. Shoppers waiting in a checkout line, for example, are considered by some marketers to be a captive audience.

Captive brand

A product line sold exclusively through one retailer whose trade dress is not owned by that retailer, or whose manufacture is not specifically contracted by that retailer (and therefore doesn’t classify as private label). See private label.

Car topper

A display designed to attach to the roof of a vehicle that can be used in a dealer showroom or for street marketing.

Card-based marketing

A relatively archaic term for the practice of mining data collected through frequent-shopper cards to develop marketing efforts.


A generic, non-specific term for heavy-duty, paper-based product. Do not use as a synonym for corrugated.

Cart advertising

Advertising messages delivered on shopping carts, ranging from print attachments to interactive media delivered via wireless video screens.

Cart corral

The fenced areas in store parking lots used to collect discarded shopping carts. The spaces often contain sign frames, canopies or other materials used by retailers for branding and advertising.

Cart mule

The motorized vehicles used to collect shopping carts in a store’s parking lot.

Cart rail

The area at or near a store entrance in which shopping carts are stored, often also used to merchandise new, seasonal, or promotional merchandise.

Cart wrap

An ad printed on paper, light cardboard or other material to wrap around a shopping cart.


Abbreviation for “computer aided sign making.”

Case allowance

A payment or discount provided by a manufacturer to a retailer based on the number of cases purchased during a specified period.

Case card

A header or riser attached to, or slotted into, a case of product to enhance its presence, or an easel card positioned on top of a case stack.

Case count method

The practice of accepting a wholesale delivery based on the number of cases listed in the invoice rather than by an actual count of the cases delivered.

Case divider

A cardboard or plastic strip designed to segment and organize products in display cases or freezers. The strip can carry a brand logo or other marketing message. Also known as “case organizer.”

Case rate

A calculation in which a brand’s annual marketing budget is divided by the number of cases sold to represent the level of support the product received.

Case stack

A mass display made up of stacked cases of product. The top cases in the stack are cut open to expose product and replaced with another open case as the items sell down. Case stacks are often enhanced with additional P-O-P elements, including signs set on top of the cases, affixed to poles near the cases (see pole topper), or with rolls of graphics (see case wrap) wrapped around the bottom cases.

Case stacker

A plastic or rubber base used to add support for a case stack.

Case strips

Cardboard or plastic materials that snap into the graphics channel of shelving units or food cases to present product information or a marketing message (see also channel strips).

Case wrap

A roll of decorative paper or corrugate designed to surround the base of a case stack display. Also known as base wrap.

Cash register display

A rack or other type of display designed to mount onto or sit near a cash register. It typically is used to merchandise high-impulse products like candy or cigarettes; also refers to a sign designed to mount onto the cash register.

Cash value

The monetary value of a coupon, required in some states. The amount is low enough (1/100th of a cent) to offer no real cash value.

Cash wrap

Alternative term for the checkout area, used primarily in the United Kingdom.

Catalina Marketing

A marketing service operating in numerous supermarket and drugstore chains that ties into the store’s POS data to deliver targeted coupons and other promotional offers in conjunction with register receipts. See the In-Store Media Network Guide.

Catalog items

Displays and other marketing materials made available by display manufacturers or product marketers for retailer orders on an ongoing basis.

Category analysis

An in-depth examination of a product category to ascertain the strengths, weaknesses, and effectiveness of competing products.

Category captain

A product manufacturer who, through his size, market position or strength in delivering proven insights, is selected by the retailer to play a leading role in its category management activity.

Category development fund

Pooled money used to increase sales at the category level rather than to boost an individual brand. Through cooperative marketing associations, categories such as cheese, milk, and pork collect such funds to conduct periodic promotions.

Category killer

A somewhat outdated term used to identify retailers whose large footprints and focus on specific product areas — The Home Depot, Toys “R” Us, Barnes & Noble — made them dominant forces in those categories and led to the demise of many independent retailers in the market. The rise of Wal-Mart, however, has greatly reduced the lethalness of most category killers.

Category management

The practice of analyzing SKU selection, shelf merchandising, promotion and sales history to improve the business performance of a specific product group. The function is the responsibility of a retailer’s category manager, with varying levels of support provided by relevant product manufacturers.

Category management system

An in-line display designed to make a specific product category easier to stock and maintain and/or easier to shop.

Category review

The periodic analysis of a product category in which a retailer evaluates the existing planogram to develop a more efficient and effective shelf set.

Cause marketing

A strategy in which the marketer aligns with a non-profit charity or promotes a socially relevant issue in order to foster goodwill with consumers. Campaigns typically include fundraising activities or in-kind donation efforts.


Walgreens’ “Customer-Centric Retailing” initiative, which involves new store layouts, re-focused product assortments, 30 different shopper trip types and five key shopper segments.

Ceiling crasher

A display sometimes found in convenience stores that suspends from the ceiling to present the illusion that it is crashing through.

Center of Excellence

A special department through which product manufacturers seek to identify, test and showcase best practices in marketing and/or merchandising.

Center store

Literally, the large middle portion of a supermarket in which the majority of packaged goods are merchandised (in contrast to the perimeter, which typically houses fresh-food departments). The term is also used to identify the categories and product merchandised there.

Channel Red

The name Target has given to its in-store video network.

Channel strip

A piece of molding that slides into or over the front edge of a shelf, often used to communicate brand messages, price or other information.

Cherry pickers

Shoppers with no brand or store loyalty whose purchase plans are based solely on the promotions being offered at any given time.

Cigar store Indian

Native American figurine seen outside of tobacco stores in the 1800s. Considered to be the first P-O-P display. POPAI uses the image for the statues awarded in its OMA (Outstanding Merchandising Achievement) contest.

Clean store policy

Term used to describe the professed policy of some retailers to prohibit or severely restrict the acceptance of vendor-supplied P-O-P displays, in deference to easier store navigation and an overall cleaner appearance.

Clip Strip

A trademarked name owned by Clip Strip Corp. that has become the standard term for merchandising strip.

Closure rate

The percentage of shoppers who buy a product versus all those who enter a store or specific category/department. If 100 shoppers walk down the laundry care aisle and 40 purchase a product, the closure rate is 40%.

Club store

A retail channel in which chains charge annual membership dues and merchandise bulk items at discount prices within a warehouse environment. The three primary U.S. club stores are Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale.

Co-equity overlay

An add-on to a standard free-standing insert in which the product manufacturer provides key retailers with a free, co-branded secondary ad promoting exclusive deals or promotions. In exchange, the featured retailers will often provide enhanced merchandising support in stores. The SmartSource and Redplum co-operative FSI programs both run formal co-equity calendars.


Strategic practice in which a retailer and product manufacturer combine their marketing resources and insights to create exclusive, mutually beneficial programs. It differs from account-specific programs, which typically involve much less involvement from the retailer; also sometimes used for collaboration between two product manufacturers.


The act of turning shoppers into buyers.

Conversion rate

A comparison of sales and shopper traffic totals for a store, department, category or product, usually expressed as a percentage. If 100 shoppers enter a store and 35 of them buy a product, the conversion rate is 35%.

Co-operative advertising (or co-op advertising)

The practice of sharing the costs for mutually beneficial marketing activity among two or more parties.


Abbreviation for “cash-on-delivery,” in which the customer pays for merchandise when it is delivered instead of in advance.

Collaborative marketing

A broad term used to describe a wide variety of partnerships — retailer and product manufacturer, product manufacturer and product manufacturer, etc. — who combine resources to conduct mutually beneficial campaigns.

Comparable store sales

The amount of total sales generated from stores that have been open for at least one year, or long enough to make comparisons based on historical data. Typically expressed as a percentage increase or decrease, comparable store sales exclude sales derived through acquisitions or newly opened stores and are often used by investors and analysts to determine a retailer’s overall health. Also known as same store sales.


A 200-store chain approves or “accepts” an in-store marketing program from a CPG. Although accepted chainwide, the display was set up, or “executed,” in only 140 of the chain’s stores. The compliance rate, therefore, is 70%.


A class of products including candy and other sugar-based sweets.


Standard term for an individual who buys and uses products and services. Differs from a shopper in that the consumer is not actively considering a purchase.

Consumer intercept

A research practice in which individuals are solicited in person to take surveys and provide information about their attitudes and behaviors.

Consumer promotion

The name for a wide variety of marketing activities whose goal is to induce specific consumer action. Among the more common consumer promotion tactics are P-O-P displays, coupons, sweepstakes and events.


The materials that go into the manufacture of containers or boxes. They consist of facings called linerboard and the intervening fluting.


A popular promotion tactic in which entrants are required to demonstrate a skill or talent (write an essay, take a photo, etc.) and winners are selected based on the merits of their entries. Although more complicated than a game or sweepstakes, the tactic is commonly used because contest operators are legally allowed to require a product purchase before entry. See game and sweepstakes.

Continuity program

1. A long-term promotion designed to induce repeat purchase of a product by offering ongoing rewards.2. A retailer promotion designed to generate repeat traffic by offering new items in a set (dinnerware, books) on a periodic basis.

Control store

In shopper marketing research, a store in which standard conditions are maintained in order to compare sales and other factors with those from a test store. Control stores are selected for their similarities to the test stores.

Controlled store test

A method of gauging the potential success of a product launch or in-store marketing campaign by testing in a small number of stores in which all potentially influential circumstances are closely monitored.

Convenience store (C-store)

A small, easily shopped store that merchandises an extensive assortment of high-volume products, such as cigarettes, beverages and snacks, along with a limited selection of numerous other items. More than half of all c-stores sell gasoline, and an increasing number offer fresh coffee and prepared-food options. C-stores range in size from enclosed kiosks shopped from the outside to 5,000-square-foot, full-service locations. Some supermarkets and other larger retailers operate adjacent c-stores to capture more convenience trips.

Convenience trip

Common shopping trip in which store selection is based overwhelmingly on proximity and required time within the store.

Cost of goods sold

All expenses related to the manufacture, sales and distribution of consumer products. In the case of product manufacturers, it includes all promotional allowances paid to retailers. Some companies also classify the production and distribution of displays and signs as a cost of goods sold rather than as part of the marketing budget.

Counter card

A standing sign used to deliver advertising messages, used most often at checkout or other type of service counter.

Countertop displays

Compact displays, typically carrying small amounts of product, designed to fit on a store’s counter to drive impulse purchase without impeding work activity.

Counter mat

A mat used to present advertising messages at the point of sale. Often protects the counter from looking worn.


A printed voucher distributed to consumers as a purchase incentive by offering a stated price discount or other type of deal. The discount typically is redeemable only for specific products or brands identified within the copy, although retailers sometimes offer coupons with broader redeemability (such as “20% off any single item in the store”). The coupon must be submitted by the consumer at the time of purchase.

Coupon dispenser

A small device that distributes coupons in store, most often attached to shelves or cooler doors near the product in question. Sometimes activated via motion sensor.

Coupon pad (or coupon tearpad)

A pad of coupons that is glued together for easy tear-off.


Commonly used acronym for “consumer packaged goods,” which encompasses a wide variety of food, beverages and general merchandise pre-packaged for sale to consumers.

CPM (cost per thousand)

A standard currency rate in the media advertising world, in which advertisers evaluate costs by comparing the dollar amount required to generate 1,000 consumer impressions.

Cross docking

A logistics term for transferring a vendor’s product to store-bound trucks at the warehouse without a lot of handling or lengthy storage.


The practice of marketing or displaying products from different categories or store departments together to generate incremental purchase or, to a lesser degree, improve the shopper experience. Product selection most often is based on consumer usage patterns reflecting either specific meal solutions (peanut butter, jelly and bread is an obvious example) or a broader theme (such as the common seasonal grouping of outdoor grills, charcoal, beer and marshmallows).

Cross-ruff coupon

A coupon for a particular product that is included on or within packaging for a different product.

Customer-centric (or shopper-centric)

A strategy in which store designs and layouts, merchandising activity, product selection and/or marketing initiatives are developed to meet the needs of specific consumer groups

Customer Centricity

A term made popular by Best Buy to express its strategy of basing store design, merchandising, marketing and even labor strategies on the needs of specific customer demographics.

Customer First

The business mantra used by Kroger to express its efforts to use a deep understanding of its shopper base as the foundation for all decision-making.

Customer marketing

The practice among product manufacturers to devote personnel, money and other resources to the development of specific marketing and merchandising programs for key retailers, often in close collaboration with those accounts.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

Originally used specifically for computer-based methods of tracking customer interactions, the term now refers to the practice of efficiently managing all aspects of customer interaction and the use of purchase history and other data to develop targeted marketing offers. The underlying goal is to manage each customer based on individual preferences and needs over time rather than on isolated transactions or general behavioral assumptions.

Customer segmentation

The practice of dividing a retailer’s shopper base (or a brand’s user base) into groups that reflect their demographics, lifestyle needs, purchase habits and shopping behaviors in order to develop more effective methods of marketing and merchandising and, ultimately, to engender deeper loyalties.


Any retail operation, technology, service or program to which the shopper is exposed. Often contrasted with “back-office” activity.

Cut case

A shipping case in which the front portion has been torn off (or “cut”), thereby exposing the product and turning the case into a merchandiser. Commonly found stacked together as case stacks within aisles or on shelves (particularly in price-impact stores where labor is more scarce). Usually cut with box cutters, many now are designed to be self-opening.

Cut in

The introduction of a new product into the shelf set, which involves a change to the existing planogram. A cut in usually occurs between major shelf resets.

— D —


A sign or small graphic attached to channels of shelving units with a thin strip of material. Also known as shelf “wobblers” due to their propensity to move with air currents. The term “ceiling dangler” is sometimes used to refer to signs hung from the ceiling.


Term for a deferred billing practice in which the retailer isn’t required to pay for the merchandise it receives for several months, with no interest charged.

Days sales outstanding (DSO)

The average number of days it takes a company to collect revenue after a sale has been made. A low DSO number signifies that it takes a company fewer days to collect the revenue; a high DSO number indicates that a company is selling its product to customers on credit, and taking more time to collect revenue.

Deal pack

A special package design, like bonus packs, that typically carry the marketers’ promotional pricing graphics.

Dealer tie-in

Local support by a retailer for an advertiser’s promotional program. Methods include in-store display materials, cooperative advertising, local contests, identification in media ads, etc.

Dealer’s privilege

A sign with advertising on one side and just a service message on the other, such as, “We appreciate your business.”


A print that is enclosed between a lamination film and pressure-sensitive adhesive film with a mounted release liner.

Dedicated space

A company purchases space in a store, where the space is used for displaying that company’s product.


The practice of drawing attention to a product by showing how it operates, what it can be used for and/or what end result it delivers. Food sampling is a type of demonstration, especially when it involves the preparation of featured recipes.

Demonstrator display

P-O-P that shows how a product functions.


Large areas within the store dedicated to one product category or brand line and sometimes targeted to a specific demographic. These specialized areas include electronics, pharmacy, hardware, cosmetics, garden, pet, sewing, housewares, men’s apparel, shoes and furniture.

Department manager

The person in the department who is responsible for ordering product, conducting markdowns and performing other management tasks.

Department store

Large-scale stores, sometimes multi-level, offering a mix of merchandise focused on fashion, apparel and home goods.

Design for recycling

A design concept that encourages recycling by eliminating hazardous and non-recyclable components.

Designated Market Area (DMA)

A geographical area defined by the exposure of its population to the same media outlets, such as TV and radio stations, newspapers and other vehicles. Nielsen Media Research recognizes 210 DMAs in the U.S. They typically are identified by the largest city within them.

Die-cut inserts

Cardboard packaging that precisely fits and thus protects a part’s contour.

Digital advertising network

A narrowcast network combining targeted entertainment and/or informational content with advertising. Distributed through digital networks and/or screens in place-based, out-of-home consumer venues such as retail, transit, malls, grocery, health clubs, medical offices, gas stations, office buildings and hotels.

Digital display (billboard)

Devices that display advertising-only messages via screens equipped with LED (light emitting diode) or LCD (liquid crystal display) technology, often changing, at predetermined times or through motion recognition technology, to feature multiple brands.

Digital signage

A flat-screen digital display. The term covers both large screens (usually mounted on walls or ceilings) and small (a few inches in size, attached at the shelf edge), as well as single-screen displays and chain-wide narrowcast networks. They offer information, advertising copy, animation, and/or broadcast-quality content. Today, the screens are usually programmed and networked from a remote, central location. Also used synonymously with in-store TV; dynamic signage; digital out-of-home media and electronic signage.

Direct-store delivery (or direct-to-store delivery; DSD)

Process in which the product is delivered directly to individual stores by a manufacturer’s field representative rather than to a distribution center. DSD vendors often have an advantage when it comes to in-store execution because they have the labor to set up programs, as well as more personal relationships with store personnel.


Abbreviation for “dynamic image provisioning applications,” software that controls digital signage content distribution, determining, for example, which files will be played at what time and which location, or what will be shown on various portions of a particular screen.


An unscrupulous but fairly common practice in which a retailer buys product in large volume from the manufacturer at a promotional price, then sells a portion of it to other retailers or sales channels at a profit.


Abbreviation for “digital light processing,” the technology used in many video projectors.


See Designated Market Area.

Dollar store

A small-footprint retailer offering a wide variety of merchandise but a limited number of SKUs in each. The name comes from the practice of selling all merchandise at $1 or less, although few chains actually adhere to it. Once viewed with disdain by product manufacturers as a place for diverted or damaged product, the channel has produced two significant players — Dollar General and Family Dollar — whose size and increasing sophistication have made them key accounts for a number of CPGs.


Days of supply.


Commonly used acronym for “direct-store delivery.”

Dump bin

A merchandiser that carries loose or bulk product.  See also bin.


Abbreviation for “digital video recorder,” the most popular of which is called TiVo.

Dwell time

How long a shopper lingers in front of an in-store TV screen or sign, or shops a specific store or store area.

Dynamic screen zones

The separate segments of screen space that feature different types of information. Typically three zones, comprising full-motion content (1) with a news scroll along the bottom (2) and store specials listed in a panel along the right side (3).

— E —


Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) uses security tags and special detection equipment. Systems installed at entrances and exits set off an alarm when the tag passes through the equipment without previously being deactivated.

Easel card

Flat signs or cards with a chipboard easel attached to the back, providing support for the display to stand on a counter, shelf, or case stack. Also a free-standing floor unit of wood, plastic or metal to support signs, large cards and frames.


The name of Walgreens’ monthly rebate catalog.


Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) is a strategy in which a chain, distributor and vendors work together to take out cost from supply chains.

Edge Crush Test (ECT)

A test of corrugated board to determine the force that will crush standard board while standing on its edge. The test measures the stacking strength of corrugated boxes and fiberboard.


Electronic Data Interchange, which involves transmitting information directly by standardizing computer formats.


Electronic Funds Transfer.

Electronic paper (E-paper)

A technology that imitates the appearance of conventional paper and ink using plastic film laminated to circuitry. E-paper is somewhat bendable.

End-aisle display

Alternative term for endcap or endcap display.


Merchandising space located perpendicular to and at the end of store aisles, used to prominently display products on sale or other special items. Space allocation is often negotiated between retail buyer and product seller. Endcaps are considered to be prime store real estate offering great potential for incremental sales.

Endcap display

A singular product display built specifically for placement on a store endcap, or a collection of product and P-O-P materials set up to simulate a product display.


Measure of a marketing vehicle’s ability to capture, then hold, the attention of shoppers.

Entertainment tie-in

The use of licensed imagery from popular film and television properties to gain additional exposure for and increased participation in a brand’s consumer promotion.

Environmentally preferable products

Products that have a lesser effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products.


In the shopper research context, they are usually graduate anthropology students who are trained to note aspects of the shopping experience such as needs, decision logic, brand/channel/store selections, aisle behavior, etc. They work on site, from videotape, via in-store focus groups and/or shop-alongs.

Ethnographic research

1. The use of personal observation or video monitoring to study the behavior of shoppers as they traverse the store; or the similar observation of consumers in their homes or other natural environments.2. The analysis of information collected through such techniques to gain better insights into the consumer mindset.


1. A physical event used to activate marketing programs and immerse consumers in a branded experience.2. A multi-page FSI program used to create maximum impact for a promotion or product launch.

Event marketing

The practice of sponsoring or staging physical events as a means of engaging consumers, business partners or employees through activities relevant to the brand.

Every day low price (EDLP)

A retail policy in which products are sold at a consistent low price rather than being offered at fluctuating price points through on-and-off promotions. Wal-Mart is considered to be the father — not to mention the king — of EDLP.

Exclusive brand

A brand distributed through a single retailer but not directly owned or manufactured by that retailer. Also known as a captive brand.


The act of carrying out the various aspects of an in-store marketing program. Most commonly used in reference to store-level execution of brand campaigns.

Expandable polystyrene (EPS)

Common name for this plastic is Styrofoam. Usable at sub-zero temperatures; can expand or blister at high temperatures.

Experiential marketing

The practice of using various stimuli related to the five senses to immerse consumers in a physical representation of the brand message.


The act of a consumer being presented with an opportunity to experience a marketing communication. See opportunity to see, impression.


The name of CVS/pharmacy’s loyalty program.

Extrusion molding

The process of pushing heated plastic through a die, which is cut with the desired profile. (Think of the Play-Doh “Fun Factory.”) Extruded parts are used when a shape with undercuts or long, continuous straight lengths of plastic are needed. Often called “profiles,” these are commonly used in shelf-edge signage applications.

— F —


Term for each row of product stocked on a shelf or display. A brand’s strength at retail is often based on the number of facings it commands on the shelf. Determining the number of optimal facings for each SKU is a key component of planogram development.


A giant replica of the product used most frequently in the display of class cosmetics.


The acronym for 7-Eleven’s “First, Best, Only” merchandising strategy, through which the convenience store chain strives to be First to market with a product, offer the Best version of a product, or be the Only retailer to stock the product.


Term used by both Nielsen and IRI to denote scanner data and other information that represents the entire Food, Drug and Mass merchant universe eXcept for Wal-Mart, which does not make its data available for syndication.


1. Term for the ad space given to a product in the retailer’s circular, typically negotiated between buyer and seller and funded with trade promotion dollars.2. A key characteristic of a product or service that often is highlighted in marketing materials as a point of difference from the competition.

Field representative

An agent working on behalf of a manufacturer who visits stores to deliver product, set up in-store marketing programs and perform other tasks.

Fill-in trip

One of the more common types of shopping trips in which a shopper visits a store in between stock-up trips to replenish several items and/or buy some additional products.

First Moment of Truth

The now legendary phrase popularized by Procter & Gamble ceo A.G. Lafley, who in a 2002 letter to shareholders defined it as the moment “when consumers stand in front of a store shelf … and decide whether to buy a P&G brand, or a competing product.” The phrase has been widely interpreted both as an affirmation for the importance of in-store marketing and as an endorsement for the store as a viable brand-building medium. As such, it has become an oft-quoted battle cry among industry practitioners.

5-by-5 rule

The theory that a product in a store should convey its value proposition within five seconds from at least five feet away from its position. Warehouse club operator Costco is generally credited with establishing the practice.

Floor decal/graphic/cling

A plastic substrate that adheres to floors (and is easily removed) on which advertising graphics are printed. The tactic is used most often to draw attention to a product in close proximity, but is also utilized to direct shoppers from other areas of the store or to communicate retail messages.

Floorstand (or floor display)

A freestanding merchandiser designed to sit directly on the sales floor.


Retail term that denotes the amount of store traffic within a certain time frame.


A fixture that holds product on four sides. It is most commonly found at Wal-Mart, which uses numerous four-ways in its Action Alley merchandising plan.


An independent storeowner who has contractual ties to a retail chain. Based on the terms of the contract, the owner can operate relatively independently or be required to follow fairly stringent guidelines for merchandising and marketing. For example, 7-Eleven requires its franchisees to follow fairly regimented guidelines on product sourcing, planogramming and marketing, yet storeowners still maintain some operating autonomy.

Freestanding display

Any display designed as a stand-alone merchandising unit.

Free-standing insert (FSI)

An ad inserted into Sunday newspapers as a stand-alone piece (versus a run-of-press ad). The FSI market is dominated by the SmartSource (operated by News America Marketing) and Redplum (Valassis Inc.) co-operative programs, which run weekly insert programs that offer category exclusivity and national, regional or local distribution.

Frequent-shopper program

A program that encourages shoppers to identify themselves during each trip (usually by swiping a card at checkout), thereby letting the retailer collect historical purchase data and develop personalized marketing offers. Normally used synonymously with loyalty card program, although that term implies more dedicated efforts to analyze and activate the data collected.


The area including and surrounding checkout – upfront, near the entry doors – that attracts high traffic volume and is therefore considered a prime location for secondary merchandising.

— G —


A chance promotion that requires participants to perform a rudimentary task, such as entering a code online or scratching off a card. It is unlawful to make product purchase an entry requirement, although the common practice of delivering codes and other necessary information on-pack often implies otherwise.

General merchandise

Non-food packaged goods sold with relatively low price points and high usage rates sold through most mass-market retail channels. Categories include health and beauty care, cleaning products, stationery and toys.

General merchandise manager

A retail employee in charge of product purchasing and category management for one or more product categories or departments. (In this context, “general merchandise” is not confined to non-food categories.)


A secure shelving unit for stocking products that accommodates shopping from at least two sides. It is the primary method of merchandising for most packaged goods retailers. It comes in two standard sizes: “high profile” gondolas are about 72 inches high, while “low profile” gondolas stand about 48 inches high.

Gravity Feed Display

A display slanted or otherwise designed so that merchandise automatically slides or is pushed forward as upfront items are removed from shelves.

Gross impressions

Measure of the total audience for a marketing communication without factoring out duplicate impressions.

Gross rating point (GRP)

A unit of measurement for estimating the audience exposed to an ad through television, radio, or outdoor advertising. One point equals 1% of the total potential audience available through that medium. The “gross” portion refers to the fact that multiple exposures to a single individual are not factored out of the total. The medium’s reach multiplied by the ad’s frequency equals GRP.

Group packaging/Secondary packaging

A sustainable packaging/display term. P-O-P packaging that does not come in contact with the product and can be removed without affecting the product unit’s characteristics. A toothpaste tube’s carton and shipping case are examples.

— H —


Commonly used abbreviation for “health and beauty aid,” used interchangeably with HBC (“health and beauty care”).


A board that sits atop a display, fixture or case stack to communicate the primary points of communication. Differs from a riser in that a header is typically larger or more detailed.

High Low (or Hi Lo)

The antithesis of EDLP, in which certain products are marketed at relatively low discount prices for a short period while the rest of the inventory remains at average or above-average levels. The goal is to drive store trips for the advertised deals, then make up the profit margin on the purchase of other products. With the rise of Wal-Mart and its EDLP strategy, this strategy has largely fallen out of favor.

— I —

ICM (Instant Coupon Machines)

An automatic coupon dispenser that’s attached to a retail shelf.

Identical store sales

The amount of total sales generated from stores whose operation has not undergone any major change during the reporting periods in question. Differs from same store sales or comparable store sales in that it excludes stores that have been relocated, expanded, or otherwise altered in a way that could significantly affect results.


Unit of measurement in which each exposure of a consumer to a marketing communication equals one impression. The term implies actual viewership, but in fact only measures likely exposure.

Impulse purchase

Purchases made without prior planning or careful consideration, often triggered by in-store stimuli. The opposite of a planned purchase.

Impulse item (product)

A product that derives a significant portion of its sales from unplanned purchases. Batteries, gum, magazines and other products merchandised at checkout are largely impulse items.

Impulse sales

Retail sales resulting from impulse, or unplanned, purchases by shoppers.

In-ad coupon

A coupon placed in a retailer’s circular or print ad, typically redeemable only at that retailer for specific products and during a certain time frame.


An additional product, service or other feature offered with purchase of a product to trigger the buy.

Information Resources Inc.

Chicago-based syndicator of scanner data and a shopping research provider for CPG marketers and retailers. Competes with Nielsen.

In-home use studies (IHUT)

Observation of consumers at home, usually to gauge packaging functionality and product usage and performance.


A term used to describe a company that develops advertising or other services internally rather than contracting with outside suppliers.


Within the standard shelf set or planogram.

In-line display

A merchandising unit designed to fit into or attach to a retailer’s larger shelf fixture or gondola.

In-pack coupon

A coupon included inside a product’s package for use on a subsequent purchase.

In-pack premium

A toy or other premium included inside a product’s packaging. Used as a purchase incentive.

In-store coupon

A coupon distributed within a store via shelf dispensers, kiosks, POS systems, packaging or other means. In-store coupons usually are instantly redeemable and sometimes specific to the retailer through which they are being distributed.

In-store marketing

All marketing activity carried out within a store, including tactics such as displays, merchandising, media advertising promotions, sampling, and coupons. Also, any marketing activity designed to drive traffic to stores to make specific purchases.

In-store media

Broadly, any device within a store that provides opportunities for retailers and product manufacturers to present marketing messages to shoppers. Such devices include display graphics, shelf signs, coupon dispensers and narrowcast TV and radio networks. More specifically, however, the term is being used to identify advertising opportunities that have brand-building potential in addition to sales-driving functionality. (Note: the In-Store Marketing Institute uses the term even more narrowly to identify ongoing marketing programs that actively solicit advertisers and guarantee messaging opportunities.

In-store radio

A proprietary audio feed piped into a store to enhance the shopping environment, often used also to deliver promotional messages.

In-store TV

A proprietary video feed distributed through strategically positioned monitors that is used to present a variety of programming, including product information, recipe ideas, paid advertising and entertainment shorts. The term has been criticized in some circles because it implies that the medium can be leveraged by advertisers, and will be used by shoppers, in a manner identical to broadcast TV.

Incremental revenue (incremental sales)

Revenue gained from marketing and merchandising activity that would not have been generated through the standard course of business.

Inflatable display

A type of display that ships deflated and is filled with air or gas at the store to promote a product.

Injection molding

Process that pushes liquid plastic at high pressures and temperatures into a machined, two-part mold. (Think model airplane parts or any plastic toy that snaps together.) As the plastic quickly cools and solidifies, the mold is opened, and the part is ejected. This type of molding is recommended not only for parts small and large, but also for parts that are complex, and intricately configured. Common uses in P-O-P: Gravity feed displays and wall merchandisers for mass cosmetics.

Instant coupon dispenser

Machines affixed to store shelves or fixtures for distribution of coupons. Often attached near related products to help spur impulse sales.

Instant gratification

Tendency for consumers to prefer immediate rewards for their actions rather than wait to receive promised benefits.

Instantly redeemable coupon (IRC)

A coupon available within the store that can be redeemed for an immediate purchase. Distribution vehicles include packaging stickers, shelf dispensers, display tearpads and checkout receipts.

Integrated marketing

The practice of planning and developing all forms of marketing communication — advertising, promotion, public relations, customer marketing, etc. — in a unified manner rather than in isolation. The goal is to create a clearer, more consistent and more effective message with maximum impact potential. Practitioners also often advocate a media-agnostic approach to campaign development in which marketing vehicles are selected for their potential effectiveness rather than because of any internal preconceptions or prejudices.

Interactive display

A display that invites and often responds to interaction from shoppers via buttons, touchscreens, functioning product samples or other means.


Interviews with shoppers and/or retail personnel that usually occur either on the sales floor, at checkout, or in the parking lot prior to or immediately after a store visit.

Island display

A freestanding floor display that merchandises product on all accessible sides.

— J —

J hook

A “J” shaped hook extending from the shelf or pegboard from which merchandise is hung. Often used to spark impulse purchase.

— K —


Abbreviation for “knocked down” display. (See below.)


The act of putting in-store marketing materials together, as into kits.


Acronym for “Kroger Marketing Area,” the designation the supermarket chain gives to its regional store groups.

Knocked-down (KD) display

Displays that are shipped flat and generally independent of the merchandise, in consideration of freight costs and logistical issues. They must be assembled and packed at the store.

— L —

Last three feet

A term used for all in-store marketing that illustrates its general proximity to the purchase decision, but refers specifically to the final step in the process when the shopper is considering a product on display.


Acronym for “liquid crystal display,” a type of flat-panel display or screen. Requires less power than a plasma screen, so it is more commonly used with battery-powered devices.


Acronym for “light emitting diode/organic light emitting diode.” Semiconductor diodes that light up when electrified. Organic LEDs utilize organic compounds and are considered more flexible.


A ridged sheet of plastic containing light properties that display different visuals at different angles, often creating a 3-D image.

Licensed product

A product whose name and packaging graphics leverage the established equity of a licensed property through a contractual agreement with the property owner/licensor.

Licensed property

Any of a variety of copyright-protected, registered, or trademarked properties whose affinity among consumers can be leveraged by marketers for promotional activity. Examples include the National Football League’s Super Bowl, NASCAR, Disney Channel TV series and Hollywood films released theatrically or on home video. Promotional rights are negotiated between the marketer and the property owner/licensor.


The sales or revenue increase from an in-store marketing initiative that usually is short-term or promotional in nature. Expressed as a percentage, Also called “uplift.”

Limited-assortment store

A retail outlet that merchandises a relatively small number of product categories and/or SKUs per category. Such stores usually focus on top-selling, high-turn products and emphasize price value and shopping convenience. Aldi and Save-A-Lot are examples of limited-assortment stores.

Line extension

A product marketed under an existing brand that offers a new flavor, formulation, scent, size or packaging shape to the portfolio. The product typically expands the brand’s presence in an existing category (as opposed to a brand extension), ideally to attract new users. It also sometimes is used defensively to prevent the loss of brand sales to competing products, even though it may result in cannibalization of existing brand products.

Location-based marketing

The practice of targeting promotional offers and other marketing messages to the recipient’s physical location, such as her proximity to a store or even a specific aisle within a store. If combined with loyalty-card information or other historical purchase data, the practice even makes consumer-specific targeting possible. The primary method of delivery is a personal smartphone, although in-store technologies theoretically could also be used.

Lock bar

A system that allows an entire high-ticket product package to be seen and held while remaining safely secured to the fixture

Loss leader

A product offered to shoppers at cost or even below cost as a way of driving traffic to the store and gaining additional, profitable purchases.

Loss prevention

The methodology a retail business employs to curb physical loss of property (from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and so forth), reduction in inventory (due to theft, damage, spoilage and so forth), and loss of money due to clerical error or theft (employee, customer, or vendor). Also known as “LP” or “Security.”

Loyalty card program

The retailer practice of providing discounts and other special offers to regular shoppers. Participation requires initial registration and continued activation, thereby allowing retailers to track behavior going forward. The “card” portion of the term is gradually decreasing in importance as alternative activation methods are launched. Also known as frequent shopper program.

Loyalty program

Marketing activity designed to establish and/or maintain loyalty to a brand or store by forging emotional connections with consumers.


A sign or other P-O-P element that is attached to a primary display, typically to add a dimensional presentation or highlight specific information.

— M —

Marketing at Retail Initiative (MARI)

A research project spearheaded by Point-of-Purchase Advertising International that is striving to develop industry standards for measuring shopper “engagement” (interaction) with in-store marketing materials.

Mass merchant (mass merchandiser)

A large-format store carrying a wide variety of popular product categories, typically at discount prices. The most common examples are Wal-Mart and Target.

Media agnostic (Media neutral)

A strategy in which media options are evaluated on their ability to effectively reach the target audience rather than on any preconceived notions or institutional biases.

Merchandising strip

A long, narrow device made of plastic or metal with hooks or grooves used to merchandise individually wrapped packages of a product. The low-cost displays are typically used to provide secondary placement for relatively small packages of high-volume product, and are often used to facilitate cross-merchandising (such as batteries in the electronic toy aisle). Also commonly referred to as a “clip strip.”


A ceiling sign that uses counter-balanced elements to create motion in a current of air.

Mobile marketing

1. The emerging practice of delivering marketing messages to “on the go” consumers via portable media devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants.2. An event marketing tour, especially one that features a branded vehicle. This meaning is becoming extinct as marketing through mobile media becomes more prevalent.

Modular display

A display whose components can be constructed or combined in multiple ways to produce different sizes and shapes, thereby accommodating the requirements and/or needs of various retailers.

Motion display

A display that features a moving component, usually battery-powered but sometimes requiring electricity. Used to attract more attention to the display.

Mystery shopper

A brand or retail representative who visits a store anonymously to evaluate store conditions, customer service or other things without influencing the actions of store personnel.

— N —


The National Association for Retail Marketing Services.

Narrowcast network

An audio or video feed of content created for delivery through a specific, closed network to a unique audience; a less controversial term for in-store TV.

National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)

A group for convenience store owners and operators.

Near pack premium

An ad specialty or other type of gift offered free with product purchase and typically displayed near the product or at checkout to help influence the purchase decision.

Near pack display

1. A display made to merchandise a premium that will be given away with product purchase. It typically is placed near the product in question and delivers the promotional message.2. A display shipped flat in a container, with the product still in shipping cases, and set up at retail.

Neck hanger

A P-O-P material that fits over the neck of a bottle to deliver a marketing message at the shelf. Also called a bottle hanger.

The Nielsen Company

One of two leading auditing services that collects point-of-sale scanner data from retailers to provide syndicated tracking and analysis of product sales, market share and other performance benchmarks. It also is the leading syndicator of audience measurement analytics for television advertising and other mass media. Through its Nielsen In-Store division, the company will offer syndicated data on in-store audience levels and ad placement.

Network Operations Center (NOC)

The central office where a staff controls a communications network.

— O —


Term to describe sales of packaged beer, wine and liquor sales through retail stores at which they will not be consumed, as opposed to “on-premise” bars or restaurants. The distinction is significant in some states and in many local jurisdictions where public policy limits access to alcohol. Also comes into play in following local laws that affect the permissibility of liquor promotions targeted to store owners, club owners, bartenders, wait-staff, etc.

On-pack (premium)

A promotion or other marketing message delivered on the product’s packaging; a free gift included as part of the product’s packaging.


Term to describe beer, wine and liquor sales through channels offering immediate consumption, such as bars and restaurants, as opposed to “off-premise” sales of packaged products in stores.

On-shelf studies

Research conducted to assess whether a CPG’s merchandise is actually on a given shelf at a given store at a given time. The goal is to determine whether replenishment or out-of-stock issues at the store level are a major problem.


Abbreviation for “Out of stock” merchandise.

OPP (Opening price point)

The lowest price offered in a product category, which often serves as the consumer’s purchase entry point.

Opportunity to see (OTS)

Refers to the shopper’s (or consumer’s) potential to view a marketing communication. A shopper walking down a store aisle has an “opportunity to see” a particular shelf sign, but won’t necessarily do so. The term is often used interchangeably with exposure and impression.


A category management program launched by Safeway in 2007 that seeks to improve vendor collaboration through the shared analysis of shopper data.


Organized Retail Crime/Organized Retail Theft. Theft gangs target household commodities and consumer items that can be sold over the Internet or through fencing operations and flea markets. Items at high risk include OTC drugs, razor blades, camera film, batteries, videos, DVDs, CDs, smoking cessation products and infant formula.


Abbreviation for “over the counter” medications, which require no prescription for purchase.

Out of stock

A product is temporarily sold out and unavailable for purchase. Products may be out of stock at the shelf or at other points in the distribution channel. Often abbreviated as OOS.

Out-of-home advertising

A grab bag of media opportunities that consumers encounter after leaving their house. The term covers place-based TV networks (in-store, in-office, transit), billboards, bus wraps and a large number of other vehicles. Technically, all forms of in-store marketing are “out-of-home” advertising.

Over-wire (or over-the-wire) banner

A printed communication piece, often paper, that can be thrown over a wire to display a marketing message on either side.

Overhead merchandiser

A display that sits above a checkout counter, allowing the cashier to reach the product without abandoning his position. C-stores often use overhead merchandisers to stock cigarettes.


A secondary tactic included in a promotion to generate additional awareness or participation, or to customize the promotion for a specific retail account.

Own label

Product brands owned and marketed by retailers for sale in their own stores. Also known as store brand or private label brands.

— P —

Pack-out displays

Displays that are folded flat for shipment, but are included in the same box as the merchandise and assembled in stores.

Packaged good (or package good)

A consumer product pre-packaged for sale at retail that is relatively small, carries a low unit price and is consumed on a frequent basis. The term is used for all pre-packaged food and beverage, health and beauty, and general merchandise products. It does not include, as examples, apparel or consumer electronics.

Pallet display

A type of display built on standard pallets for efficient shipping and rollout to sales floors with minimal effort. Pallet displays are typically pre-packed with product and shrink wrapped for shipping. Many contain additional graphic panels and structural elements for enhanced product imagery, brand logos or other messaging. Some consist of a series of stacked trays that can be removed and discarded as product sells down. Full-size pallets that display product on all four sides are most common, especially in larger stores where floor space isn’t as tight, but half pallets and quarter pallets are also commonly used.

Pantone Colors

A standardized color system for printing patented by Pantone Inc. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) utilizes a palette of standard colors that can be mixed in precise combinations to recreate a wide range of colors consistently across different printing presses and substrates.

Pantry load

A common store trip in which the shopper purchases a large number of grocery and general merchandise items to satisfy her needs (“load the pantry”) over an extended period of time. Also called a stock-up trip.


The route that shoppers take from discovery of a product/need to actual purchase of a product. May include several steps such as consulting research or product reviews on the Internet, discussing products with their friends, being exposed to media advertising, traveling to a store, and examining the product on shelf or display before buying.


Abbreviation for “personal digital assistant,” a device used by some shopper researchers to quantify observations by:1. scanning UPC codes and/or recording purchases and loyalty card data in order to track products purchased, compared and/or considered, and2. integrating and organizing data on customer shopping behavior, purchases and interview responses.

PDQ display

A display that facilitates “pretty darn quick” stocking at the store by arriving pre-packed with product in a shelf-ready container. In Wal-Mart’s parlance, all shelf trays are PDQs.


The borders of a store’s interior, encompassing the walls and adjacent areas. In stores with a racetrack layout, the perimeter is often the most heavily trafficked area of the store. In the traditional supermarket format, the perimeter is the location for fresh food and service departments such as deli, bakery and meat, and therefore has become a shorthand way of referring to those departments.


A low cost substitute for polycarbonate. It has higher impact strength than acrylic. PETG is available in clear and opaque formulations and can be injection molded, vacuum formed or extruded. A PETG sheet is easily die-cut and is a good material for screenprinting. Common uses in P-O-P: lenticular signage, clear shelving, lenses and signs.

Place-based media

An out-of-home advertising vehicle that delivers content created specifically for the venue and its unique audience.


The set-up of a marketing program within a store; also refers to the specific positioning of the program.

Planned purchase

A purchase the shopper intended to make before entering the store.


A schematic diagram used to direct the exact placement of specific SKUs on store shelves. Planograms typically are created for product categories and sub-categories.

Plasma screen

A type of flat-panel display or screen. Plasma screens are said to have better viewing angles than LCD screens, but use more power and are not as conducive for bright venues.


1. Promotion Marketing Association, a non-profit organization for marketing professionals who create and execute integrated marketing campaigns.2. The Produce Marketing Association, a non-profit whose goal is to enhance the marketing of produce, floral, and related products and services worldwide.


The site of a consumer transaction, most commonly used to denote the retail environment.

Point-of-purchase advertising

Marketing strategies and tactics executed within the store environment, including (but not limited to) displays, signs and proprietary audio and video networks.

Point-of-purchase display

A product merchandiser designed to hold product and influence purchase at retail.

Point-of-sale (POS)

Often used as an alternative term for point of purchase, although some practitioners make a distinction by using POS in reference to checkout/cash register technology and P-O-P for anywhere else in the store.

Pole topper

Signs communicating an ad message that are mounted on paper or plastic poles. The poles usually are set at the floor by a corrugate pedestal or wire stand, with the product stacked around them. They most commonly are used in beverage merchandising.


Another popular substitute for glass, polycarbonate has 45 times the high-impact strength of acrylic, is stain resistant, rigid, and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. However, it scratches more easily than acrylic. Common uses in P-O-P include corner brackets, food containers and unbreakable lenses.

Polyethylene (PE)

The most frequently used thermoplastic in the world. There are hundreds of formulations of PE available, resulting in different properties for different uses. The varieties most commonly used in point-of-purchase advertising are high density (HDPE), and low density (LDPE). Common uses in P-O-P include polybags, product facsimiles, flexible hinges, promotional flags and snap-to-fit parts.


A plastic material commonly used in tire stands, shelves, bases and other P-O-P materials.

Polystyrene (PS)

A versatile thermoplastic used in foam packaging and plastic cups. Common uses in P-O-P include signs, vacuum-formed trays, menu-boards and shelves. Available in three different grades: general purpose polystyrene (GP); high-impact polystyrene (HIPS); and high expandable polystyrene (EPS).


Often combined with other materials to produce a liquid foam that’s poured into rubber-lined molds to make special parts and character shapes. Common uses in P-O-P: dimensional signs, imitation wood, beer-tap knobs and dimensional trim.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

The most widely used member of the vinyl family. It is chemically inert and resistant to water, corrosion, weather and dents. Common uses in P-O-P: graphics, price channels, edge molding and banners.


Point of Purchase Advertising International, a global trade association for practitioners of marketing at retail.

P-O-P producer

A company involved in the design, manufacture and supply of displays, signs, and other in-store marketing materials to product manufacturers, retailers, and marketing agencies.

Post-consumer materials

Materials that have already served their intended use and have been recycled as a raw material.

Post-industrial material

Material that’s generated by manufacturers, such as overruns or waste, and incorporated back into the manufacturing process.

Powder coating

A type of coating that’s applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat. Used to create a hard finish on aluminum and other metals. MDF board can be powder coated by pre-heating the board and making it conductive.

Power wing

A product display designed to hang from a store fixture, most often on the sides of endcap displays. See also sidekick.

Pre-consumer materials

Materials destined for disposal had they not been diverted from the waste stream for reuse or recycling.

Pre-pack display

One of the more popular display types. A product merchandiser that is filled with product at the plant and shipped as a single unit rather than separately. The practice reduces labor demands at the store, and therefore generally is believed to improve execution. Sometimes used synonymously with “shipper display,” although that term usually denotes less elaborate, lower-cost units.


A tangible item offered free with purchase of a specified product, used as an incentive to buy.

Price elasticity

The levels to which a product’s price can be increased or decreased without negatively affecting long-term sales or brand equity.

Price-impact format

A store whose marketing and merchandising strategies center on discount pricing of high-volume consumables. Food 4 Less and SaveRite are examples of price-impact stores.

Price preference

When a purchasing agency is willing to pay a higher price for recycled or environmentally preferable products.

Primary research

Data collected firsthand through a new study, often to collect insights that previously had not existed in the marketplace.

Private label

A line of products exclusive to a single retail entity whose brand and trade dress is owned by that retailer (as opposed to an exclusive brand). Private label products are either manufactured by the retailer or outsourced to another party.


The more commonly used acronym for “Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric,” a research initiative undertaken in 2006 to develop a formula for measuring store traffic at the category level using sales data and other known variables.

Product introduction

The first stage in a product’s life cycle, covering its announcement to the marketplace and initial period of availability.

Project Impact

Walmart’s multi-year chain modernization initiative that involves nearly every aspect of the store, from SKU counts, product assortments and category adjacencies to merchandising tactics, in-store communications and customer services

Promotion allowance

A rebate, discount or other monetary reward given by a manufacturer to a retailer in exchange for special marketing or merchandising consideration. In theory, they serve as reimbursements for expenses incurred by the retailer when performing certain tasks. In practice, however, they often have become “pay to play” charges for planogram facings, secondary display space, circular ads and other marketing activities.


1. Marketing strategies and tactics whose goal is to directly stimulate consumer action.2. In the retail community, a special price offer.

Promotional display

A display produced and distributed for use during a specific time frame, often in conjunction with a particular consumer promotion.

Purchase behavior

The habits and tendencies exhibited by a shopper when buying products.

Purchase decision

The consumer’s act of choosing to buy a product.

Purchase influence

A factor, either tangible or intangible, that affects a shopper’s decision to buy a product or not.

Purchase intent

A consumer’s predisposition to buy a product, or the likelihood that she will buy.

Purchase trigger

A stimulus that inspires a purchase decision.

— Q —

Qualitative research

In broad terms, anecdotal research. The analysis of narrative feedback derived from a handful of consumer focus groups is an example of qualitative research

Quantitative research

In broad terms, data-driven research. The analysis of scanner data to forecast sales is an example of quantitative research.

Quarter-pallet display

A display whose footprint accommodates shipment and, if desired, display on a quarter pallet. Sometimes shipped four to a pallet for use as a full pallet in some locations or to be broken down in others.

Quick trip

A common trip in which shoppers visit a store to purchase one to three items that fill immediate needs (such as that evening’s dinner).

— R —


A continuous aisle that runs in a circle or oval around the entire store with products merchandised on either side.


A floorstand, usually constructed of wire or metal, used for displaying certain products or a group of related products.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

A technology in which the location of a specific pallet, display, shipping case or individual SKU can be verified by an attached data chip called an electronic product code. The chip emits radio waves that continuously broadcast its data to nearby readers, which can be attached to a door, forklift, shelf or hand-held device. To date, the technology’s advancement in the retail industry has been driven largely by Wal-Mart and its efforts to track product shipments to stores; Walgreens has been testing its capabilities for determining in-store marketing effectiveness for several years.


A price discount offer in which the buyer is required to pay for the product at full price, then submit information by mail or online to receive money back. The tactic is sometimes favored over immediate price discounts because some consumers neglect to redeem the offers.

Rebate catalog

A collection of rebate offers and related redemption information distributed in print and/or online form. The tactic is used extensively in the drugstore channel.


A specialized process of cleaning and refurbishing a product for reuse.

Recovered materials

Waste materials and byproducts diverted from solid waste, including post-consumer materials.


The ability of a product to be diverted from the solid-waste stream.


A product that includes materials diverted from the solid-waste stream.


Name for one of the two weekly co-operative free-standing insert programs distributed nationally through Sunday newspapers and, to a lesser degree, direct mailers. Owned and operated by Valassis Inc.

Related display

A display or other unit carrying different products that have seasonal, functional or other similarities. Also called a “cross-merchandising display” when the products being promoted are from different categories or manufacturing sources.


The dismantling of a product for cleaning and repair for the same use.

Reserve stock

Merchandise that is kept somewhere other than the selling floor in an area away from customers.


1. A major change or revision to an existing planogram, section, department or entire store undertaken to accommodate new product lines, packaging or fixtures, or an improved configuration as determined by the retailer.2. The realigning or adjusting of dies or tools during a production run; not to be confused with the operation setup that occurs before a production run.


Changing shelf order tags on a shelf/fixture/display to conform to a new system.

Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing

Sponsored by Coca-Cola and run by The Partnering Group and the In-Store Marketing Institute, the commission of retailers and brands formed to enhance the shopping experience, increase same-store sales and boost profit performance through the design of a next-generation model for retailer/manufacturer collaboration. The group’s goal is to do for shopper marketing what was done for category management decades ago.

Retail Link

Wal-Mart’s online data information network, a best-in-class system that gives product vendors near real-time access to sales data.


Term for in-store events and other marketing activities that enhance the store experience by entertaining shoppers. In the early 2000s, Wal-Mart was enamored enough of the concept to seek trademark protection of the word (although its application was eventually denied).


Repairing, refurbishing, washing or recovering worn products and using for the same purpose.

Rewards in Store

A regular promotional program run by Ahold USA chains in which shoppers earn discounts off a future receipt when they buy participating products in a specified amount. The program most often features products from a single packaged goods manufacturer, and sometimes limits the reward to purchases made in a single category.


See Radio Frequency Identification.


More commonly used acronym for “request for proposal,” a request by a potential client for suppliers to submit bids on a project. Product manufacturers often require RFPs from marketing agencies and P-O-P suppliers.


Acronym for “request for quotation.” Some use it synonymously with RFP (see above).


1. The topmost shelves of a gondola, often too high to be shoppable and frequently used to store overstocks.2. A graphic panel or card attached to the top of a display.


A marketing term used by Wal-Mart to identify products whose prices have been deeply discounted for periods of at least 90 days and, most often, for six months or more. Items in the rollback program are identified as such through signage, circular features and, occasionally, media advertising.

Rotational molding

Manufacturing process used to produce hollow parts, ranging in size from medium to large. A common example is the “Big Wheels” toy. In P-O-P applications, a rotationally molded part can be hollow, making it lightweight for shipping yet structurally sound for service on a sales floor. Sometimes, sand or water is poured into the part on-site to help anchor a display. The downside is slow production cycles.


A circular fixture for clothing.

— S —

S hook

A hook shaped like an “S” often used to hang merchandising strips or other displays.

Same store sales

The amount of total sales generated from stores that have been open for at least one year or otherwise long enough to make comparisons based on historical data. Typically expressed as a percentage increase or decrease, same store sales exclude sales derived through acquisitions or the opening of new stores and are often used by investors and analysts to determine a retailer’s overall health. Also known as “comparable store sales.”


Promotional tactic in which a full or smaller version of the product is given free to consumers. Often used for new product launches to induce trial.

Scan down

A price discount programmed into the retailer’s computer system that automatically registers when a product is scanned at checkout.

Scan-based trading

The practice of withholding payment for a product until it actually is purchased in a store.

Scanning inventory control clip

Used to deter theft of expensive products by installing in front of packages.

Seasonal merchandise

Products that exhibit higher demand from shoppers and merchandising activity from retailers during specific seasons of the year, such as back-to-school, Halloween or the holidays.


Measurement of the sales fluctuations at retail based on the time of year.

Secondary display

Placement of product in a location separate from its primary shelf position; or, the actual display on which a product receives the additional merchandising.

Secondary research

Existing data; the analysis and synthesis of existing data to inform new learning.

Security ad wrap

An advertisement placed over the theft-prevention security pedestals located at store fronts.


See customer segmentation.

Self-liquidating offer

1. A promotion that features some sort of bonus, gift or special offer that generates enough extra product sales revenue that it at least pays for the item itself, if not other promotional costs as well.2. A display for which the retailer is paying all or part of its cost.3. A premium offer in which the consumer pays a nominal fee that covers the premium’s production costs.

Self shipper

Alternative term for pre-pack shipper or shipper.

Sell down

The gradual purchase of product from a display.

Sell in

The process of gaining retail approval to conduct an in-store marketing campaign.

Sell through

The purchase of product by shoppers, discussed in terms of quantity and duration; also used synonymously with “sell down.”

Sell sheet

A printed sheet or brochure with detailed information about a product’s available pack sizes, display options and promotional offerings, typically used by product manufacturers to sell in programs to retailers. Also sometimes called a “one sheet.”

Semi-permanent display

A display designed to remain in place for an extended period of time, usually between two and six months.

Shelf channel

A recessed channel on the front of store shelving units where pricing labels or other messaging can be inserted.

Shelf extender

A display or fixture attached to standard shelving units to increase available space on the shelf or interrupt the aisle in an effort to focus more attention on a product or product category.

Shelf label

A label placed on shelves or in shelf channels containing information such as price, product size, bar codes or temporary sales offers.

Shelf life

The length of time a product can safely remain on display before it spoils or deteriorates in quality.

Shelf organizer

A formed mat or base that helps to keep products neatly arranged on shelves or displays.

Shelf talker

A small sign affixed to a shelf edge, typically used to highlight temporary promotions, new product introductions or other advertising messages.


A display that includes prepacked merchandise and the display structure all in one carton, usually designed for quick and easy set-up in the store.


A popular research technique in which a trained moderator accompanies a consumer on a shopping trip to observe tendencies and reactions to in-store stimuli.


The term, used primarily in the United Kingdom, for designing and building store interiors. The more common U.S. term is “store design.”


Evaluation of a store’s ability to satisfy shoppers by making their experience fast, easy, informative and pleasant.


A consumer who is actively involved in considering products to purchase.

Shopper-centric (or customer-centric)

A strategy in which store designs and layouts, merchandising activity, product selection and/or marketing initiatives are developed to meet the needs of a specific consumer segment.

Shopper insights

Data-driven learning that leads to an actionable understanding of shopper behavior and purchase influences.

Shopper intercept

Research practice of interviewing consumers before or after their shopping trip (usually outside the store) to gain an understanding of their attitudes and behavior.

Shopper marketing

The use of strategic insights into the shopper mindset to drive effective marketing and merchandising activity in a specific store environment.  Key elements of effective shopper marketing include:

  • an organizational culture that embraces shopper insights as a key component of the marketing strategy;
  • strong collaboration between retailer and brand marketer, in which both sides work toward mutually beneficial objectives;
  • the development of programs that, in addition to driving sales, can build brand equity for both product and retailer by engaging shoppers in relevant ways.

Shopper segmentation

Techniques retailers use to identify key customer segments, usually with a special nomenclature. For example, until recently Best Buy would target a soccer mom-type it named “Jill” and an affluent professional it named “Barry”. CVS looks for “Sophie,” an older empty nester; “Caroline”, a young, single working woman; and “Vanessa”, who’s married with children. Wal-Mart doesn’t name names, but looks for “brand aspirationals,” “price value shoppers” and “trendy quality seekers.”


The amount of merchandise lost due to shoplifting, employee theft, spoilage or other factors after the retailer receives it.


A small display designed to hang on the sides of an endcap or fixture. Most sidekicks ship prepacked for quick set up. Many retailers have permanent endcap hardware to house prepacked sidekicks from manufacturers. Some sidekicks ship with a temporary base that lets retailers use the display as a floorstand. The term is often used synonymously with power wing, although this term refers primarily to larger displays.


Brand name for a rigid PVC (i.e. plastic) sheet product used quite frequently in permanent display and signage applications. Very popular because it is offered in a wide variety of colors. The name is sometimes improperly used to describe any colored plastic sheet.

Site to Store

Term used by Wal-Mart and other retailers for a service that lets shoppers buy products online and pick them up at stores near their homes.


The more commonly used acronym for “stock keeping unit,” a numerical identification tag given by a retailer to a specific product, brand, flavor, variety and/or package size. Rhymes with “flu.”

SKU rationalization

1. Taking a cold, hard look at the sales and profit performance of specific products and deciding if they should continue to be offered for sale in a store.2. The systematic evaluation of product performance, usually intended to reduce the number of SKUs offered in a specific category.


A wall display in which particle board or other paneling material is fitted with linear slots, facilitating the installation of bracketed shelves, hooks or other devices on which to stock product. Slatwalls often have modular capabilities, allowing them to be easily reconfigured and/or changed out. Commonly used to merchandise footwear.


A loss prevention term referring to the act of a cashier passing merchandise around the cash register barcode scanner without actually scanning the item.


The tendency for consumers to fail to redeem a promotional offer for which they qualify. Marketing plans will often include a projected slippage rate. Most commonly used in the discussion of rebates, for which slippage rates can be significantly (and profitably) high.

Slotting allowance

A fee paid by a manufacturer to a retailer to provide shelf space — or, a “slot” — for a new product. The payment ostensibly covers the administrative and labor-related costs of adding a new item to the system, as well the potential lost sales involved in making room for an unproven product.


Brand name for News America Marketing’s in-store media business, which runs a national network of advertising opportunities for product manufacturers in supermarkets, drugstores, dollar stores and mass merchants. Also, the name for News America’s weekly co-operative free-standing insert program.


A large display that frequently combines multiple display formats (shippers, stacked merchandise, inflatables, signage, lights, audio, etc.) and products to achieve greater impact. Spectaculars are commonly built around seasonal or event themes, such as Halloween, the Super Bowl or the holidays, and are positioned in store lobbies or perimeters due to the large amount of floor space they require.

Spinner rack

A freestanding display that positions products around a rotating center pole, allowing shoppers to spin the display and shop all sides while remaining stationary.


A freestanding sign frame that allows for easily changeable graphics and messages.

Stand-alone FSI

A free-standing insert containing ads for a single consumer product manufacturer that is distributed separately from the standard weekly co-op inserts. Procter & Gamble distributes a monthly stand-alone FSI called brandSaver through the Valassis network.


A freestanding cut-out, typically made of corrugate and most often depicting a person or animated character, that communicates a brand’s promotional activity or celebrity endorsement. Standees usually are distributed as one component of a broader display program, but often are used distinctly.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

A numerical identification tag given by a retailer to a specific product, brand, flavor, variety and/or package size.


A common store trip in which the shopper purchases a large number of grocery and general merchandise items to satisfy her needs over a period of time. Also known as pantry load.

Store brand

A private-label brand marketed under the retailer’s name; often used as a synonym for private-label brand.

Store check

A visit to a retail location to observe general conditions and/or gather specific information. Often used in the context of measuring compliance for an in-store campaign.

Store clusters

Groups of stores that cater to similar shopper segments, or have other compatible operating characteristics, and therefore are managed collectively by the retailer.

Store of the community

Wal-Mart’s strategy of tailoring store layout and product selection to match the needs of local shoppers.

Store within a store

Branded area of a store designed as a distinct shopping destination. It most commonly is used to identify literal co-branding partnerships, such as Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants inside Wal-Mart stores or Staples aisles in Stop & Shop supermarkets; also often used interchangeably with “vendor shop,” or to describe a retailer’s own merchandising initiative, like Best Buy’s Magnolia Home Theater departments.

Street money

Promotional allowances offered directly to the retail store.


The base material upon which printing may occur. Typical substrates include paper, card stock, and some plastics or metal.


Briefly, the development of environmentally sound business practices and products. Both the term and the movement behind it have been driven largely by the actions of Wal-Mart.


When thieves (often professionals operating in teams) “sweep” merchandise off a shelf or simple peghook into their pockets, bags or specially made clothing.


A chance drawing in which winners are selected at random from among all entrants. Very common promotion tactic that seeks to attract consumer attention through the allure of the prize pool. Federal and state laws require that “no purchase is necessary” to enter a sweepstakes, which is why that phrase typically is used so prominently in marketing communication.


A form of theft, whereby a cashier fails to charge or rings up only one item of a multiple purchase for friends, co-workers and/or customers.

— T —

T-scope research

Shorthand for “Tachistoscopic” research, a technique used to measure packaging or advertising recognition. A shopper is exposed to a series of scenes at brief time intervals (often less than a second) and asked to identify what he or she saw.

Table Tent

A small sign that ships flat but can be folded in half to form a tent-shaped display for use on tables or countertops. Frequently used in bars and restaurants to advertise temporary drink or food specials.


Small pads of coupons or product information that can be torn-off as individual sheets. Also called “take-one pads,” tearpads are often attached to displays or shelving near the products they promote.

Temporary displays

Displays typically made of corrugated board and designed for a life span of one week to three months. Most temporary displays are produced from “E” flute corrugate, which provides a smooth surface for direct printing or applying a lithography label. “E” flute also is easy to fold for assembly.

Temporary price reduction (TPR)

A price discount of short duration most often facilitated by a product manufacturer’s trade promotion funds.

10 for $10

Common promotional tactic employed by supermarkets in recent years that offers a variety of packaged goods for $1 when 10 units are purchased.

Test market

A limited, controlled geographical area in which a new product or marketing plan is launched as an experiment. Results from the launch are carefully monitored in order to revise and develop plans for expansion into other markets.

Test store

A retail outlet used to test new products, marketing concepts or merchandising strategies to gauge their effectiveness.


Retractable tethers allow for display samples to be used and tested while securing them to retail fixtures, preventing theft. The retractable feature brings the product back to its original display position after use.


An abbreviation for “thin film transistor liquid crystal display,” a technology used on interactive touchscreen applications.

30-30 radio

Co-operative advertising practice in which a product manufacturer will purchase 60 seconds of air time and provide the second 30 seconds to a key retail partner free of charge. Used as an incentive for retailer participation in the program, as well as to direct consumers to a specific point of sale.

30-day rule

An FTC rule that requires suppliers to ship mail-in offers for which consumers have submitted payment within the time promised, or within 30 days if a time is not specified. The rule requires suppliers to notify the consumer if a shipment cannot be made within the required time and offer an opportunity to cancel the order.

3-D shopping environments

Realistic images of products and store aisles projected onto large-screen displays to create an immersive “shopping” environment. One of the oldest is Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Customer Interface Laboratory.

“The Three R’s”

The EPA’s trilogy of Reduce (minimize the amount of trash, Reuse (refurbishing and repairing products for longer life) and Recycle (buying products with recycled content and diverting more materials from the solid-waste stream).

Three-way sell display

Allows product to be displayed from the front, left side and right side.

Tie-in promotion

1. A single promotional event intended to encourage the sale of more than one product or brand.2. An entertainment tie-in.


A pre-printed advertising page or card inserted into a periodical whose regular page size is larger.


1. A coupon, sample, or reply card glued by one edge to a page of advertising.2. A special card attached to a display to call attention to a special sale or other feature.


Any opportunity for a brand to expose a consumer to the marketing message.

Triggered content

A special message or information that overrides scheduled content. Triggers may be the selection of certain items off a shelf, the presence of shoppers, an RFID signal or smart card.

— U —

Unaided awareness

Refers to the consumer’s ability to remember an advertising message without prompts from an interviewer or survey question.


Universal Product Code (UPC): The unique number assigned to a product for identification purposes, printed on the product’s packaging with an accompanying barcode so that it can be optically scanned at checkout to automatically log the sale. Retail point-of-sale systems align UPCs with pricing information so the correct price will be charged (and recorded).

Unplanned purchase

A purchase decided upon after entering the store. Although largely used synonymously with “impulse purchase,” the terms sometimes differ in the level of spontaneity involved: a shopper who buys deodorant after in-store stimuli remind him that he needs some (or that the product he usually buys is on sale) has made an “unplanned purchase,” while a shopper who buys an energy beverage for the first time after noticing a display has made an “impulse purchase.”

Upfront market

The annual spring period in which television networks sell advertisers air time for the fall season. Wal-Mart has adopted the “upfront” concept in selling ad space on Wal-Mart TV.

— V —

VAR (Value-Added Reseller)

A VAR packages applications and services for re-sale.

Vendor shop

An area of the store devoted to a single brand or product vendor and featuring branded, vendor-specific displays and signs. Also referred to as a store within a store.

Vendor-supplied fixtures

Merchandising units provided to retailers by manufacturers or distributors.


1. A sign attached perpendicular to the shelf, thereby sticking out and “violating” the aisle.2. A visual device affixed to packaging graphics used to promote a special feature.

VIP (Value Improvement Program)

An initiative launched in 2006 by Ahold USA’s Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover chains to move their pricing policy from high-low to EDLP.

Viral marketing

Leveraging the word-of-mouth nature of the Internet and other digital media to spread marketing communications from person to person.

Virtual Retailing/Simulations/Reality

The use of computer-driven store simulation technologies to conduct market research and achieve other key business objectives. Practitioners are employing an array of tools that include visually basic but highly functional two-dimensional and video-based simulations of shelf sets and small-scale store environments that can run on any computer; visually basic 3-D simulations with predetermined shopping paths and limited durations that are online-compatible; intermediate 3-D simulations of product categories and store departments with high-resolution graphics suitable for larger screens; high-quality, full-store 3-D simulations with special technology requirements.

Visual merchandising

Arranging products in a manner that considers visual aesthetics and/or merchandising effectiveness. Also known as “visual presentation.”

VMI (vendor managed inventory)

Letting a vendor or supplier have the authority to re-order or manufacture parts or products as needed. Some P-O-P producers maintain VMI relationships with their clients for display programs that take many years to deploy and/or involve replacing parts in the field on an ongoing basis.

VPI (Value Producing Item)

A Wal-Mart program in which store managers, as well as corporate executives, select products with high sales potential to support with additional merchandising activity. Formerly called “volume producing,” the program’s name was changed to reflect consideration of products that also bring non-sales benefits, such as environmentally sustainable items. Product marketers lobby extensively to earn the designation.

— W —

Walk-around display

A merchandiser holding product on four sides. Differs from a spinner rack in its lack of mobility. Not accepted by many retailers because of the large amount of floor space it requires.

Wall banner

A large sign hung in the center of a store or on a wall. Proper mounting is essential so it does not shift or rock with air movement and distract shoppers below.

Wall display

A display designed for attachment to a store wall or a wall (such as a slatwall) that itself is a product merchandiser.

Warehouse club

A retail format in which shoppers pay an annual membership fee. Club stores cater to both small business owners and individual consumers, offering a wide variety of product categories but limited SKU selection within them. These no-frills retail environments accommodate little in-store marketing. In the U.S., three chains dominate: Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale.

Warehouse store

Any large store that sells merchandise on oversized racks, giving the impression that the customer is buying “direct” at lower prices. The format was pioneered and mastered by chains like The Home Depot. Today, the format is so ubiquitous that even luxury goods are sold in this manner.


A fixture in which the merchandise hangs down at an angle, creating layers or tiers.

Web-based studies

Type of research that allows for quantitative feedback (numerical data) from larger sample sizes, used when a potential change is evolutionary and/or qualitative research has already been conducted.

White goods

A term for either bedroom/bathroom linens or major kitchen appliances. The term “brown goods” refers to consumer electronics, especially smaller items like clock radios.

Wholesale club

Alternative term for “warehouse club.”

Window display

Traditionally seen on urban department stores with pedestrian traffic.

Wing display

A wing is a small, temporary display — sometimes called a “sidekick” — that is mounted onto the side of an endcap. Sometimes wings are even attached to the sides of other wings. See sidekick.

Wire feet

At its simplest, two sections of straight wire, bent at an angle to form an interlocking base with four “legs” that insert into a rolled paper tube. Commonly used to hold up pole toppers.


Also called a “dangler,” a very small, lightweight sign that hangs from a shelf or wire.

Word of mouth

The spread of information about a product or store through common human conversation and interaction. The concept became a marketing “discipline” when companies began attempting to trigger word-of-mouth buzz about their products. Also known as “viral marketing,” especially in the context of digital media.

Wrap around

Often called “base wrap,” a roll of continuously printed materials — typically on single-face corrugate — used to decorate a display. Base wrap is most commonly used around beer case stacks. See base wrap.

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Maintaining or housekeeping a product set so that it conforms to the current planogram.