Signs of the Times - November 2012 - (Page 74)

The Value of Signs More from UC about the economic value of signs By Wade Swormstedt Last month, this column presented information about Value Place’s use of electronic message centers (EMCs). That was one of several case studies that were a separate component of a comprehensive study conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) research department, headed by Jeff Rexhausen. Here, we present a synopsis of the much-larger, overall study. The study mostly confirms what people in the sign industry already know (and builds upon the seminal 1997 San Diego study), but its results should enjoy much wider acceptance because of two of the UC professors who assisted in the project, Chris Auffrey (School of Planning) and Hank Hildebrandt (School of Architecture). The results of this study were presented at the National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC) last month (October 10-11) at the Kingsgate Marriott, adjacent to the UC campus. A coupleatsentences speak volumes: for thiseconomic in the abstract study, as presented NSREC, “The considerations of on-premise signs also extend beyond their value to business owners. To the extent that signs and sign regulations promote or hinder business activity, there is an impact on the vitality of commercial areas and the tax collections of local governments.” It’s gratifying when “non-sign” people in academia understand this. It’s even nicer when tangible, documented, professional research backs it up. Here are some of the results of UC’s research efforts, based on a national survey of more than 200 businesses. On a scale of 0-3, end-user respondents rated, in terms of importance, the roles signs play: Help customers find location 2.73 Make business stand out 2.68 Reinforce branding/image 2.42 Inform about goods/services 2.23 Similarly, in terms of the importance of signs’ characteristics: Clearly readable 2.90 Conspicuousness 2.75 Size and location 2.64 Illumination 2.56 Logo and branding 2.43 The businesses that reported having made significant changes to their sign programs reported the following results: • 65% reported an increase in sales, and an average increase of 12% • 62% reported an increase in transactions, and an average of 11% more • 59% reported an increase in profits. 74 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2012 / As a side benefit to communities, among those companies who reported having upgraded their signage, nearly a quarter subsequently reported having been able to create new jobs. The unexpected result (which may be of even greater importance to the larger audience) is the tie-in UC researchers see with “search theory.” Here’s an excerpt from the NSREC presentation: “The recipients of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics were recognized for work in the area of ‘search theory’ – a field that recognizes that information is not perfectly available, and obtaining it often requires time and other resources. Consequently, buyers often cannot purchase what or as much as they would like, nor can sellers meet these market demands efficiently. This research has implications for the sign industry because the principal purpose of on-premise signs – to provide information to potential buyers – is an area where this theory can be applied effectively. “Customers’ search costs include the value of the additional time spent searching for goods and services that match their wants. . . This theory can help researchers better understand the effect of information on consumer behavior, such as the impact of a more visible sign on ‘downstream’ businesses. The theory can also help researchers better understand how quality signage can lead to less total driving.” In the conclusion, the researchers assess the benefits of their results: “Most reputable sign companies already know and appreciate this, though this may be new insight for some businesses. Perhaps the stakeholders that can most benefit from our analyses are some of the sign regulators.” ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - November 2012

Signs of the Times - November 2012
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review
Technology Review
Design Matters
New Products
London 2012
The Rules of Attraction
Extreme Weather
An Icon Looks at 80
The Value of Signs
Enter ST ’s 2013 Intl. Sign Contest
Industry News
Industry News
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - November 2012