Merchandising, POP Displays and Advertising Within the Restaurant


You do not need to limit yourself to advertising outside of the restaurant. Much of the space inside your restaurant can be used for displays, merchandising or food photography. For example, the area near the point of purchase (POP), where customers pay for their bills, is ideal for merchandising. Depending on the service type, the POP can be the counter near the cash register, the area behind the bar or even the table where customers eat and receive their bill in a full-service restaurant.

If you are a fine dining establishment, you should be careful not to display showy ads in your dining area. However, casual full-service and quick-service restaurants can increase profits by utilizing their empty space. In particular, merchandising and POP advertising can help your restaurant with the following:

Impulse Buys. By displaying merchandise, retail foods and bakery products near your POP or cash register, you can encourage impulse buys from your customers as they order or pay their bill. Using table tents or displayettes at the table where customers order is a great way to encourage impulse buys of appetizers or desserts. Displaying homemade baked goods in a bakery display case near the entrance to your restaurant can also increase dessert sales. Furthermore, according to research published in Bakery Production and Marketing, half of casual dining customers would visit a restaurant more often if it had a bakery.1

Promoting New Or Profitable Items. You can use merchandising, such as table tents, displayettes, or food photography and wall posters, to promote any new menu items or menu items with a high margin. This is a great way to launch sales of new menu items or increase profits by selling more profitable items.

Branding. Displays should reinforce your positioning and include the same logos, slogans and designs as the rest of your marketing materials. The more frequently customers see your name and designs, the more they will remember you, since they have an “image” to associate with your brand. » Learn More

Notification Of Events and Promotions. Use displays at the table or the POP to notify customers of upcoming events, specials or promotions. The customers you already have are the ones that are most likely to attend special events and promotions in the future, so it is essential that you keep them informed.

Types Of Merchandising and POP Advertising

There is probably a lot of free space in your restaurant that can be used for advertising for other businesses or displaying your own restaurant’s design concept and products. If you enter quick-service chains, you are likely to see posters or displays advertising one of their food or drink items. Consider showing off your own food, merchandise and events in a similar way with the following tools:

Table tents or displayettes. You can use table tents or displayettes to market upcoming events, specials or promotions at your restaurant. You can also use them to display food photography for profitable or new menu items.

Wall hangings and signs. Posters and signs with your logo and/or food photography of your menu or specials can stimulate customer appetites, increase sales of the pictured items and help with your branding efforts.

Digital advertising displays. Digital advertising displays work especially well for quick-service restaurants, so customers can watch the screen as they wait in line to order. You can use these digital displays to advertise upcoming events, your own products, or get paid to advertise for somebody else.

Counter or behind-the-counter displays. Display merchandise, mints and candies, pre-packaged food and baked goods near the counter to encourage impulse buys when customers pay their bills.

Selling Ad Space at Your Restaurant

In addition to advertising your own food and drinks within your restaurant, you could consider selling advertising space to other businesses. Contract with a local advertising firm to arrange the sales, or contract with a designer and/or logo printer and contact local stores and business yourself to see if they are interested in advertising within your restaurant. You can put ad space in any of the following areas:

  • Menus
  • Bathroom stalls
  • Coasters
  • Displayettes or table tents
  • Digital Displays

As long as it does not begin to look cluttered, merchandising and advertising displays can support your branding efforts and help you increase profits. Create your own displays if you are artistically oriented, or hire a professional to design your merchandising and advertising displays. Either way, be sure to feature your newest or most profitable items.

1 Patti J. Shock, John T. Bowen and John M. Stefanelli. Restaurant Marketing for Owners and Managers (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2004).

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