At the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe conference, Nigel Rix of Episys, UK, spoke of the inadequacy of static printed signs. 69% of shoppers will purchase new or alternate products as a result of promotions, rising to 80% in the 24-34 age range, "in store promotions give customers confidence to try new things." Yet static display promotions are cumbersome to change. As an example Rix cited that one store in the US put up 8 million signs for the three day thanksgiving period, then had to take them down again, resulting in a huge labour expense. Nigel commented that 80% of the cost of associated with printed signage is the labour to install them. Signs which can be remotely updated are the solution, he said, but they need to be able to be placed anywhere in the store (i.e. low power, remotely updateable and light weight), be low cost, clear and come in flexible sizes. Their impact in trials has produced excellent results - sales have increased by an average of 1.5% and for promotions by 10% to 25%. Coupled with the reduction in manual time and the ability to respond quickly to too much stock adds additional benefits. They can also be updated easily - in the US one company was fined $1m because they had not updated the price on the shelf but had at the till. Episys are working with Gyricon displays, which are black and white reflective electrophoretic displays. These are bistable - they only require power to change the display and therefore they are low power. Episys are piloting this display in stores.
Bill Wilson of the Outdoor advertising Association gave the market size for Outdoor Advertising in the UK to be $17.4Bn in 2004. Globally, we estimate the market to be in excess of $100Bn. As with retail signage, saving labour (the biggest expense) with electronic displays that are remotely updateable is the dream.
Craig Cruickshank of consultancy cintelliq, UK, stated the revenue of organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays is $408m with 30 million units shipped in 2004. 90% of these are based on monomers despite much work on polymer based OLEDs which can be printed. So far 40% of the applications have been for displays on MP3 players. He expects the market to rise to $3Bn in 2011 and 450 million units. As IDTechEx, he believes that, in general, organic semiconductor technology adoption is likely to occur in "low end" markets first, such as toys and novelties.