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View from the shop

View from the shop

Unfortunately, mom may have lied to us: looks do matter, especially in the world of visual merchandising.

April 23, 2009 8:14 by

Stores like these change their window displays frequently enough to keep passers-by wanting to come back for more, with guidelines and general design concepts coming from head offices in Germany for Mont Blanc, and from Italy for Diesel. Harvey Nichols displays, like other retailers, are changed on seasonal, promotional and festive occasions, and can run for as long as eight weeks or as little as three weeks. Abed says Mont Blanc changes its window display every 21 days, without changing the merchandise in-store every time, in order not to confuse clients.

At Saks Fifth Avenue, Thompson says window displays are changed once or twice a month, and that fashions are changed “at least every two weeks even if we don’t change the backdrop.” Each mannequin (the designer section has around 50) is changed every two to three days. “We have customers who come in every few days, and they want to see something new,” he says. “So it’s good to rotate and keep everything fresh.”

Rules of the game. While there are no strict “dos” and “don’ts” in this industry, every visual merchandiser worth his or her salt would agree on the guiding design principles. “Be aware of your local trends, your local markets, what this market needs you to do, while at the same time maintaining the company image or the brand name’s image without sacrificing it,” says Abdel Majid.

“There should always be a reason for the display or the merchandising, such as a promotion, event, product launch, or sales drive,” says Magnanini. “If a display is being created without guidelines, the final outcome may have no meaning to customers.”

Ford, with design and the environment in mind, offers a note of caution. “Don’t be excessive,” he says. “Material wastage is a big issue now, and I think people are starting to be turned off by excess. Whereas expensive packaging once used to be the signal of kudos, now it’s a signal of excessiveness and waste. The world has changed.”

The world may have changed, but visual merchandising remains one of the most powerful tools in a retailer’s armory. Done badly, it can kill a product, store or brand. But done well? As the renowned Gene Moore proved in New York, the best examples of the art can transcend the medium to become not just the focal point of a store or street or mall, but a talking point for an entire city – and far beyond.

First seen in Communicate magazine.

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