One trend in retail merchandising that is picking up speed in 2023 is sustainability. Shoppers are demanding that merchants and manufacturers adopt sustainable practices to reduce production and packaging waste and diminish their carbon footprint. An international study of 20,000 customers by the grocery brand leader Unilever identified one in three (33%) people were choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing environmentally good. Retailers have responded by making sustainability a major focus in their visual merchandising, and are making their commitment a component of branding and building customer trust.
This includes the signage, promotional posters, and displays their customers see and come into contact with at their retail locations. That’s why it’s important that retailers work with printers and marketing agencies that share their commitment for sustainable signage creation and use eco-friendly materials when creating signage. Here are three issues retailers should consider when adopting sustainable signage strategies.
The first place many businesses begin their commitment for green and eco-friendly sustainable signage is with their choice of the material of their sign. They turn to resources made from recycled materials that can withstand the weather and change of seasons (if outdoor signage is required) or tolerate repeated handling if used for indoor displays. The most favored materials include:
Bamboo – Favored as a sustainable hardwood, bamboo requires no pesticides, consumes carbon dioxide, and grows almost as fast as it can be harvested and put to use. Although sturdy and durable, it can be pressed and shaped for a variety of uses and can withstand outdoor exposure.
Synthetic Paper – It may seem counterintuitive to list a product with ‘synthetic’ in its name as a sustainable, eco-friendly material. Manufactured from polypropylene means no cancer-causing or dangerous chemicals are used in its production and it is 100% recyclable. Synthetic paper resists moisture, doesn’t tear, and is UV resistant, making it a solution for both indoor and outdoor promotions.
Corrugated Paper– Lightweight and easy to display, signage made with corrugated papers is 100% eco-friendly when constructed from PCW, or Post-Consumer Waste, that is recyclable and cost-effective. It is best suited for indoor displays and is lightweight, durable, and an ideal surface to show off sharp colors and designs.
Aluminum – Aluminum is particularly effective for outdoor advertising and signage. It’s lightweight, pliable, and extremely durable. Most importantly, in terms of sustainable signage, aluminum is one of the most recyclable materials used in signage, and can be repeatedly recycled and maintain its quality.
Substrates are the base materials that images are printed upon, and to be eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable they must be biodegradable, recyclable, or made from recycled products. They must able to hold ink properly, cut without damaging the ink, and able to accurately match desired print colors. Many new substrates provide better quality than less-sustainable alternatives, making them budget-friendly as well.
Here are a few substrates being used for retail signage:
Rigid Paper Board – an excellent alternative for PVC foam signs, the board surface is moisture-resistant. While technically foam board can recycled, in many states it’s difficult to find recycling centers that can process foam boards. Rigid paper board is finding uses for eco-friendly retailers.
Paper-based Styrene Alternative – an excellent alternative for styrene signs, this material is a smooth, static-free substrate that is 100% paper-based and recyclable. It’s high levels of ink absorption and faster cut times makes it highly effective and efficient. Plus, the material does not capture oils from fingerprints.
Foamless Foamcore – a sustainable alternative to foam board signs, foamless foamcore uses multiple layers of recycled paperboard with a smooth surface and embossed paper core, typically white clay-coated paper or brown kraft paper. Its common use is to mount photos and displays as a backing material.
Paper-based Backlit Film – commonly used for light box displays of restaurant menu boards, movie posters, and to catch attention at trade shows, backlight film paper is an environmentally friendly material that is water-resistant and can be laminated. The material is 100% recyclable and is an excellent alternative to harmful plastics used to create backlit signs.
Post-Consumer Waste Cardstock – as the name implies, this cardstock is composed entirely of cardboard and paper that is left over from manufacturing processes or waste material that has been recycled directly from recycling bins and not sent to landfills. It is ideal for retail indoor posters and displays.
Another way that retailers are making their signage more sustainable is to rethink exactly what role their signage plays in their retail marketing and how to use technology to go green. For instance, lighting plays an important role in deploying signs that attract eyeballs and create memorable impressions. Replacing traditional neon and fluorescent lighting systems with energy-efficient SEG frames and lightboxes allows retailers to continue to illuminate signage and save money and energy. Retailers are also discovering that less is more and using transparent signage in store windows that allows passing shoppers to see what’s inside the store and still be attracted by sales promotions and other messaging. Perhaps the most intriguing and evolving form of retail signage is virtual retail signage. Integrating interactive print on signage gives retailers the ability to connect with shoppers through their smart phones and deliver 3D modeling, interactive video content, and AR content. While the printed signage remains the same, the content can easily be kept relevant through content management systems, saving retailers costs and reducing signage waste.
Retailers are presented with a wide variety of materials, substrates, and innovations in technology to demonstrate their commitment to preserving the planet and precious resources with sustainable signage. Marketing.com works with retailers to develop signage results that are good for the environment and business. We help them create innovative packaging, efficient fulfillment and cost-effective shipping solutions from production to distribution.
Talk to a Marketing.com sustainable signage expert today to discover how you can incorporate your commitment to environmental responsibility into all your retail signage.