Experts Weigh In On Winning End Cap Design: Part Three

February 12, 2015

The last of a three-part Q&A with experts James Fraser and Jason Katz on how to make the most of your end cap displays.

If you missed part one, click here to read. For part two, click here.

TLR: What is the range of sales lift from end caps? Any categories that perform best?

James Fraser: Hitting the range of lift is very difficult. It quite literally spans the spectrum and is influenced by all of the above. Regarding categories that perform best, this is also difficult to get a clean read on because so much of the current end cap activity is driven by dramatic and unnecessary price reduction. What I will say is that a good retailer will be less concerned about the direct lift of the end (although it’s of course important) and more interested in an overall strategy to improve the shopper experience via their end cap program. A great way to do this is by ensuring that like products are paired to improve the shopping experience. For example, pairing fresh fruit on an end (merchandised on an angle to best display the fruit) to go along with their cereal end, or pairing lemons and limes to go along with their drink mix end. This sounds like a small detail but for anyone working in retail, they can attest to the challenge of getting the fresh perimeter in alignment with the center of store end cap. The result is a simple display that makes sense to a shopper and drives average basket.

TLR: How often would you estimate that the products on the end cap are actually on sale vs. just for display? 

James Fraser: This is a great question that our retail team is working on. 

TLR: What are three things an end cap display should incorporate?

James Fraser:

  1. Clear price
  2. Simple message (follow Fraser’s Rule of 3,4,5™)
  3. Use contrast – Tone on tone has become very popular with designers but it’s wrong for retail. 

TLR: What was the greatest end cap you ever designed?  What made it great?

James Fraser: I have seen tens of thousands of end caps. I have seen the pillars of a Roman coliseum created to celebrate the launch of Greek yogurt, an end aisle created out of reclaimed wood to celebrate a line of hand cut potato chips and just about everything in between. The best ends are simple, solve for a shopper occasion and build the basket. Often they don’t even need header cards because the concept is so easy to understand visually. In my opinion, an end cap strategy is far more impactful than the romantic aspirations of the “perfect” end. 

TLR: Are there any other insights you can share that you have learned from shoppers with regard to end caps? 

James Fraser: I think I have covered this above but I will end with this: Shoppers don’t come to a store to enrich their lives – they come because food shopping is a necessary task. If we as marketers and retailers do our jobs correctly, however, we can make the task enjoyable and enrich shoppers’ lives. We can do this by understanding what they want out of an end cap experience:

  • 50% of the experience should be functional – understanding the offering
  • 30% should be about discovery – not just finding new products but being inspired to try new ideas with existing products
  • 20% should be about the overall experience – continually delivering shoppers experiences that are relevant to them


About the experts:  

James Fraser, SVP Retail Strategy, Hunter Straker North America
James Fraser has been a strong presence in the retail and shopper marketing space for over 17 years. Leveraging his intimate knowledge of the retail environment, Fraser pioneered a unique process that yields a proprietary output called Purchase DesignÔ. 

Fraser writes a monthly Shopper Insights column in Canadian Grocer magazine and is a sought after speaker throughout North America on a variety of shopper related topics ranging from sales strategy to retail communication. He has also recently authored the Retail Communication chapter of the POPAI publication “Marketing at Retail 4th Edition”.

Well known for his “keep it simple” approach to retail marketing, Fraser believes that true shopper insights are actually come from the shopper and as such he can often be found in his second office – the store. Prior to joining Hunter Straker, he was a Partner and Managing Director of Retail at Capital C Communications. 


Jason Katz, SVP Hunter Straker Digital North America 
As SVP Hunter Straker North America, Jason Katz helps clients effectively capitalize on new media by developing best-in-class, insights-driven, accountable digital solutions that influence purchase.

With more than 25 years experience, Jason boasts a unique combination of retail and digital expertise, ranging across major consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers both in the U.S. and internationally. A pioneer in the evolution of shopper marketing, Jason launched and trademarked Digital Shopper Marketing™ and founded Etailing Solutions, the first 100% dedicated sales and marketing agency for CPG Ecommerce. 

Jason specializes in driving business impact from integrated digital initiatives including digital shopper marketing, social local mobile “SoLoMo”, loyalty programs and ecommerce/etailing. Jason’s list of client experiences include Starbucks, Clorox, Georgia Pacific, GSK, Kraft, Mars (Petcare and Confections), Nestle, Dannon, Barilla, Campbell Soup Co, Colgate-Palmolive, Intel, Intuit, Citibank, Unilever, Subway, Outback Steak, Dollar General, Peapod, Gerber and Johnson & Johnson.