Our high streets are changing thanks to the chalkboard.
The way consumers choose to shop has evolved from the days of browsing large retail chains on a Saturday afternoon to multi-channel shopping experiences that touch almost every part of our lives.
But while technology and changing delivering channels have certainly had an impact on the way we buy, many consumers are starting to offset their online choices with visits to local, independent retailers.
A recent survey showed that 42 per cent of shoppers were found to prefer to use independent retailers over multinational brands. At the same time (and in a true case of correlation vs causation), independent retailers across the country are investing in the growing trend of chalkboard marketing.
Here’s what it means, and how to use it in your business.
What is chalkboard marketing?
Walk down any high street or kooky creative city quarter and you’ll undoubtedly be met with a whole range of interesting, funny or thought-provoking chalkboards.
In a world where consumer decisions are often made in the moment and where brand loyalty is harder to come by than ever before, retailers are using fun chalkboards to express their brand personality and differentiate themselves from the competition.
In another recent survey business owners cited the positive impact of chalkboard signs on their businesses, with benefits including attracting new customers, creating conversation and gaining social media traction for additional free promotion.
Retail experts agree. Speaking of the growing trend for chalkboard signs, food industry and retail expert Tessa Stuart said, ‘Pavement signs are great. I know many businesses that use them in eye-catching ways to inform about their products, or simply to make the passer-by pause for a moment and laugh.
‘I think they are very powerful; the blackboard format compels our attention, and coffee shops particularly do a good line in coffee related puns.
‘For an independent local business, it is an invaluable opportunity to show off their human side, draw attention to new products if they are a deli, or promote evening events, and let their personality shine out in the face of competition from bland corporate chains.’
How to chalkboard
Getting your chalkboard right can be a challenge. The success of a board will come down to a mix of factors, including humour, appropriateness for the target audience, design and aesthetics.
Take a look at the infographic below – a ‘chalkboard of chalkboards’, it includes tips from leading retail and food industry experts including Tessa Stuart, Jane Milton (advisor to Dragons’ Den’s food businesses) and Diane Henkler (retail display expert):
What chalkboards means for the future of independent retail
When it comes to running an independent retail business, the future looks bright. The propensity of shoppers to choose a local supplier over a multi-national chain is growing, according to new data, and those independents will do well to capitalise on that popularity by showcasing their unique stories and personality.
Chalkboards are just one manifestation of that. Allow your brand personality to come through in all of your communications to build trust, loyalty and long term custom.
Aaron Inglethorpe is a branding and design specialist at Discount Displays.