The Bottom Line
Floor graphics remain a popular option for catching the attention of consumers.
When walking into a retail establishment, consumers have come to expect the instant bombardment of visual displays pleading for their attention. The result? They’re now often immune to the many shock-and-awe attempts at point-of-purchase marketing.
In a vigorous effort to catch the over-stimulated eye of the consumer, marketers and print providers are more and more turning their attention to an entirely different space in an effort to get their message across: the floor. And, for many, it’s paying off.
Take the US Postal Service, for example. To draw the attention of patrons to its “automated teller” service, the Postal Service was utilizing isolated stands and wall signage. To their surprise, however the standard graphics went widely unnoticed. Only 12 percent of customers noticed the messaging, research showed, and overall awareness of the automated teller was less than 30 percent.
So the Postal Service took to the floor for its promotional messaging, utilizing a floor-graphics system from Rose Displays. The results were impressive: Attention to the graphics increased by more than 18 percent and awareness to the automated teller increased by nearly 30 percent. The floor graphics also aided in pointing consumers to the automated kiosks, acting as directional support. And, they fit the behavior of passersby – when glancing at their mail in their hands, many customers simultaneously looked down at the floor, allowing the floor graphics to grab their attention.
Granted, the Rose Displays FloorWindo system is a bit different from what most people think of when referencing floor graphics (more on this later), but the message is clear: As a marketing vehicle, floor graphics can make a difference in the noticeability and, hence, the effectiveness of a client’s message.
Choosing options for the floor
Seeing this same uptick in floor graphics interest, manufacturers of floor-graphics components – the media, adhesives, and laminates – have endeavored to create materials that are more durable, more scuff-resistant, and more easily removable, to mention just a few traits. We spoke with a variety of producers of floor-graphic materials and systems to get their take on the current trends in the floor-graphics market, and what their current offerings were.
MacTac, for instance, offers a floor-graphics product line that includes its Imagin M Series (EMR328 and EMR329). The 4.2-mil-thick film and adhesive, available in gloss or matte, is designed for indoor use and offers one-year floor durability. For a longer-lasting install, the company’s Imagin JT5828R and JT5829R are designed to last up to two years indoors. The film and adhesive are 4.7-mil and 5.7-mil respectively, available in gloss or matte.
“We are seeing the use of floor graphics as a continuation of a point-of-purchase display,” says Jeff Stadelman, MacTac technical marketing manager. “Big, short-term floor and sidewalk graphics are being used more frequently for sporting events, as well as store promotions. Making the floor graphic look like part of the environment – the hole in the elevator floor, a dropped package, paint stains and more – seems to be a hit with our customers.”
“As product marketers continue to try to find new and innovative ways to reach consumers, all surfaces in a retail setting have become fair game,” says Paul Roba, North American technical manager at the Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Products Division. “Traditional point-of-purchase and banner graphics have become commonplace, thus losing some of the ability to catch the consumer's eye. Floor graphics serve this purpose beautifully, by attracting the consumer's attention to the graphics immediately. Avery high-performance calendered films give marketers the option of digitally printing vibrant images to highlight short term promotions, product benefits or simply augment brand awareness.”
Avery offers its MPI 2121 matte (aqueous printing), and MPI 2921 matte removable (solvent or UV printable) options. Its value-based DOL 3060 gloss, DOL 3070 luster, and DOL 3080 matte systems are available for cost-conscious customers, and are used with UL-tested overlaminates. Also on the Avery roster are its Avery MPI 1005 Supercast, available with Easy Apply RS, Easy Apply, and Gloss Opaque LTR technologies to provide faster and easier application and long-term removability. Easy Apply air egress technology helps eliminate wrinkles and bubbles while Easy Apply RS provides repositionability and the ability to slide, allowing the film to be moved before pressure is applied, the company points out.
LexJet offers Simple Indoor FloorAd adhesive vinyls that can be used with one of four LexJet anti-slip laminating films. Both are designed for use on large-format inkjet printers that use low-solvent, solvent, or UV-curable inks. The graphics offer the opacity necessary to prevent colors or patterns of the underlying floor surface from showing. Its Simple Indoor FloorAd is a 3.4-mil, opaque white matte vinyl backed by a removable adhesive that bonds well to many floor types, including waxed and non-waxed commercial PVC tile, sealed concrete, smooth ceramic tile, and linoleum.
Flexcon’s indoor floor advertising system includes Flexmark floor art 6605, a 2.8-mil high-gloss, clear vinyl protected with a removable clear premask. The vinyl can be reverse-printed on the underside via a wide range of ink systems. It is laminated to the permanent adhesive side of Flexmark floor art 6600, a 1.0-mil double-faced white polyester with a permanent/removable adhesive system. The permanent adhesive is on the clear polyester release liner side to provide a smooth wet out of adhesive against the printed graphics; the removable adhesive is on the paper release liner side and is applied to the floor surface, reports Flexcon.
Catalina Graphic Film’s floor-graphic product comprises a 4-mil PVC base film, and a water-based adhesive optimized for indoor application. The overlaminates are either vinyl or polypropylene, and are UL-approved for non-slip applications.
Oracal offers it OraJet 1663 media, a 4.25-mil media specifically developed for foot-traffic-resistant floor-graphic applications. Featuring a clear, removable adhesive, OraJet 1663 is designed for 3-year longevity and can be combined with matching Oracal laminating films, OraGuard 250AS Anti-skid or OraGuard 255AS Anti-skid High Load.
And 3M’s Ink Jet Floor Graphics Kit 8566, intended for HP Designjet printers, is comprised of 3M Scotchcal Opaque Imaging Media 8533 as well as Scotchcal Overlaminate 3645. Media 8533 is a 7-mil, opaque white marking film with a changeable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. The 8-mil overlam is both scuff-and slip-resistant. The system offers a six-month lifespan, 3M reports.
Meanwhile, Rose Displays offers the aforementioned FloorWindo, an easily changeable system designed for retail environments. The system comprises a skid-resistant, adhesive-free frame that graphics slide into; the frame’s “window” is made from PETG and is scratch-resistant; it’s available in four sizes. ADA-compliant and certified by the National Floor Safety Institute, the FloorWindo also passes ASTM safety standards. “We like to call it a cost-efficient signage billboard on the floor,” says Ann Seamonds, communications consultant for Rose Displays.
The great outdoors
You may not necessarily think of outdoor when it comes to traditional floor graphics, but it’s a growing niche within the segment. In fact, says Tom Reid with Catalina Graphics, “Outdoors is where the new action is.”
To get in on this action, manufacturers are developing products to be more long lasting, able to endure heavier traffic, and more able to survive harsh weather conditions. Typically, outdoor floor graphics have much tougher adhesion requirements because of the unfinished, textured nature of the surfaces. Also, outdoor graphic durability is significantly shorter than indoor durability because of weather concerns.
Avery’s MPI 6121 Street Graphics is a 1.8-mil non-PVC, cellulose film that allows graphics to be applied to rough surfaces such as concrete, sidewalks, and even brick for up to six months. It features micro-fracture technology that enables the film to conform to very rough surfaces like cement and pavement by conforming to them.
Imagin StreetRap, MacTac’s outdoor floor-graphic system, is specifically designed to resist typical weather conditions including hot sun and rain, with no extra steps or techniques are needed to help the product work. To enforce the bond to rougher surfaces such as concrete, permanent adhesives are utilized. StreetRap offers an outdoor durability of approximately three months with an indoor durability of approximately two years.
To develop short-term and medium-term application outdoor floor graphics, Aslan combined its digitally printable Aslan DFP 46 film with the Aslan MP 326. The composite film can be adhered to smooth or rough outdoor surfaces, roads, car parks, or paths. The DFP 46 digital printing film is compatible with all major solvent, eco-mild-solvent and UV-curable inks and must be used in combination with Aslan MP 326 laminating film. As well as protecting the print from abrasion and soiling, MP 326 has an embossed anti-slip texture; the laminate also offers flatness making it possible to be machine-cleaned and resistant to scratching and wear.
So over it: lamination
Perhaps one of the most important factors when it comes to floor-graphic materials is lamination, which not only determines the finish of the final product but can also help print providers and their clients avoid any legal implications that may arise from inadequate slip resistance. The manufacturers we talked to recommend utilizing only laminates that are ASTM- or UL-listed for slip resistance to ensure consumer safety and business liability.
Companies like MacTac have their entire line of floor-graphic overlaminating films tested according to ASTM standards by an outside laboratory to ensure pedestrian safety. All the specifications and test results are identified on each laminate’s individual performance guide, which is available to any customer. MacTac recently developed three new floor-graphic laminate options for short, medium and long-term slip-resistant applications. All PermaColor overlaminates use a clear acrylic permanent adhesive and have been tested for slip resistance.
“The biggest considerations when choosing a laminate are slip resistance, the right product for the required durability of the graphic, and the amount of traffic to which the graphic will be exposed,” says Stadelman of MacTac.
For short-term budget-friendly applications, MacTac offers PF6400 as part of its PermaColor Permaflex line, a 3.75-mil clear, textured polyolefin film with a glossy glare-reducing finish. For medium-term applications, its PF6500 is a 4.3-mil textured scuff-resistant overlaminate designed to last up to three months. For long-term applications, the company’s Rayzor Gloss LF3640 is a 1.5-mil clear gloss cast PVC film.
LexJet offers several varieties of anti-slip laminates including a vinyl-free, rigid, velvet textured laminate, a slightly embossed laminate, and an economy floor laminate for shorter-term floor graphics. Its laminates are designed to provide clarity and visual pop, and the textured laminates minimize glare from overhead light. According to LexJet product manager Dione Metnick, embossed gloss laminates work better if you want to see the graphic from the longest viewing distance.
And says Paul Roba with Avery, “One advantage of Avery Dennison's floor graphic system is its flexibility -- Avery Graphics overlaminates are UL-certified for floor graphics but can also be used for other applications like vehicle wraps or window graphics. Therefore, a converter doesn't have to stock specific overlaminates for floor graphics. Avery Graphics overlaminates can be used for a multitude of projects.”
Oracal’s OraGuard 250AS is a 4.75-mil PVC film with a raised, non-skid texture and a clear, solvent-based permanent adhesive. It’s designed to protect indoor floor graphics in normal traffic areas. For heavier traffic loads, the company offers OraGuard 255AS, a 6.5-mil PVC film, also featuring a raised, non-skid texture and clear solvent-based adhesive. Both meet ASTM D 2047 specs.
GBC’s 7-mil Arctic Floor Mat is a durable, cast vinyl and textured film for applications requiring a unique look and feel. Its slip-resistant UL rating makes this film suitable for retail floor graphics, GBC reports, and it also works well for counter graphics and other applications requiring long-lasting graphic protection.
In the Facebook era…
As marketers continue to look for new and exciting techniques to intrigue consumers, floor graphics certainly would appear to play a major role now and in the future – their growth and development limited only to the imagination of designers, their clients, and the print providers providing the output and installation.
“We expect floor graphics will be a growing market,” says LexJet’s Dione Metnick. “All types of businesses are looking for creative ways to attract attention in the ‘Facebook era.’ Consumers are inundated with advertising, and making an impression on the floor is something they’re not used to seeing, thus tend to notice it.”