The Psychology of Visual Merchandising

The Psychology of Visual Merchandising

The following is a guest post from Amanda Walters, a journalist, blogger, poet and artist. She has written for various websites including The Huffington Post and DailyWaffle. She has had her concrete poetry work exhibited at university events throughout the United Kingdom. She loves to network, attending events across the UK, and loves to learn in order to expand her horizons and gain inspiration from those around her. You can follow her on Twitter at @Amanda_W84

Psychology is a practice that finds applications in every avenue of life. The way we react to stimulus, cope with emotions and make decisions are all affected. It is based on our individual minds and behaviors. Psychology is something that is often considered when a company, product or brand implements a merchandising campaign. Companies that take into account the following questions will be better positioned to reach their target audience across all channels:

  • What will generate interest within the target market?
  • How can we appeal to a number of different people from all different walks of life that fit a specific category?
  • What will make the audience choose us over a rival?
  • What does the audience look for in a product, service or company?
  • What are the key marketing methods that will ensure our target audience are aware of us and will utilize us?

The Psychology of Visual Merchandising

Audience reaction and interaction is essential to encourage customer loyalty as well as a permanent form of brand recognition. Visual marketing allows brands to be visible to the audience and stand out against competitors. Visual aids remind consumers of a brand’s ubiquity, creating brand awareness and driving sales. Visual merchandising allows the consumer to feel more connected to the brand and the ability to identify with the message they are trying to deliver. Products and items should be a representation of the company and encourage the consumer to take an interest.

The human mind works in a way that frees items, gimmick based products and products that they can use everyday are the biggest draw and are more likely to have the desired impact. The purpose of the strategy is to prompt consumers to buy and to continue to buy showing a form of loyalty towards the brand. Vibrant colors, bold statements and the ability to tap into human emotion are the most effective ways to generate the interest that is needed and appeal to the specific audience as well as the opportunity to target a wider audience base that may have been previously unfamiliar with a company. Examples of which can be found at Total Displays.

Imagination is the key to a successful visual merchandising strategy, captivate the audience with items and visual aids that simply cant be ignored, allow them to explore the company and the strategy without having to work hard to do so. Plant the seed in their minds with simple but highly effective tools that will lead to a substantially higher level of interest, customer base and website traffic. It is one of the most long-standing methods but remains effective and applicable to each industry and audience group.

Customer Loyalty Survey, shopper marketing

You think you have loyal customers? Think again.

Retail Customer Experience recapped the results of a recent Market Track survey which concluded that the majority of U.S. shoppers are not loyal to the brands they shop. The study found that there are new trends when it comes to customer purchase decisions and a disconnect in industry perception on the part of retailers.

Customer Loyalty Survey, shopper marketing

From the article:

  • Shoppers are not loyal. 80 percent of shoppers surveyed said they would switch stores or brands when offered a compelling promotion. This unforeseen risk is nearly double the percentage of shoppers willing to switch than retailers expected.
  • Shoppers are constantly comparing prices. 78 percent actively participate in showrooming and 76 percent actively participate in webrooming.
  • Shoppers are heavily influenced by promotions. 83 percent of those surveyed said they made an unplanned purchase based on a promotion they received, with 65 percent saying they made the purchase in store.
  • Shoppers are in control. They have more information at their disposal than ever before, and they are making use of all of it. Over 80 percent of shoppers say they utilize more than one promotional media type to make purchase decisions, with print and websites being the most frequently used promotional vehicles.

Walmart and Toys R Us begin holiday promotions, shopper marketing

Walmart and Toys R Us think it’s time to start thinking about the holidays

As if we weren’t in enough denial about the summer coming to a close, some major retailers are already planning on rolling out their first holiday promotions. According to the LA Times, Walmart will begin their holiday layaway plan in mid September – Toys R Us will also begin their price match guarantee promotion.

Walmart and Toys R Us begin holiday promotions, shopper marketing
From the article:

Layaway, which allows customers to put products on hold while paying for them in installments, will be free from opening fees this year. The chain previously charged a $5 fee to open a layaway account.

As in previous years, Wal-Mart will require a down payment of $10, or 10% of an item’s price. The company reinstituted a $10 cancellation fee, which it had removed last year.

This time around, there are “no gimmicks,” Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising and marketing officer, said in a conference call with reporters.

“Our customers are feeling the pinch,” he said, adding that the coming months “will be a very dynamic and competitive season.”

The chain is offering layaway from Sept. 13 through Dec. 13, though fans of the company on Facebook will get a two-day head start. In addition to the jewelry, toys and electronics included in the program last year, customers this year will be able to lay away infant toys and car stereos.

Mac Naughton said he expected major sellers among the 35,500 available items to be computer tablets such as the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy, smartphones, Playstation and Xbox One consoles, big-screen smart TVs, toys such as the Furby Boom and the Barbie Dream House and children’s learning toys.

Home Depot Turnaround, shopper marketing

Home Depot Standing on Firmer Ground

Home Depot is in the midst of another rebound, partially owed to the rise in house purchases and, in turn, house repairs. What is behind this turnaround is not some magic strategy or stroke of luck. According to an article on Forbes, it was solid management, on target marketing, and listening to the customer that helped Home Depot get back on top.

Home Depot Turnaround, shopper marketing

From the article:

I took a look back to Q3 2005, when that housing boom was in full swing. Lowe’s reported comparable sales increases of 6.2%. Home Depot reported increases of 3.6%. In other words, Lowe’s was outperforming its larger competitor by a factor of two. In fact, according to Wikipedia, during Mr. Nardelli’s tenure, Home Depot’s stock price remained essentially steady, while Lowe’s shares doubled in price. In other words, a lot of opportunity was missed. Earnings were adequate, but they were riding on the back of cost-cutting, not sales improvements.

Today that’s certainly not the case. In fact, at least one analyst at the Smead Value Fund gave Home Depot a slightly stronger buy rating than its rival, although both stocks are expected to perform well as the housing market continues to improve.

This begs the question: What has changed under the leadership of Frank Blake? What is Home Depot doing right? The answers can be found not today, but in the doldrums of the Great Recession, which Mr. Blake’s team took as an opportunity to right a very shaky ship. Changes were steady, yet sweeping, and included marketing, technologies, stores, and human resource allocation.

Best Buy interior, retail turnaround, shopper marketing

Best Buy Turnaround. Is it working?

With their best quarterly results in two years, Best Buy appears to be on the mend. According the Businessweek, it appears as if people are not entirely through buying TV’s and other electronics in a brick-and-mortar store.

Best Buy interior, retail turnaround, shopper marketing

From the article:

Best Buy, at least, seems to have put to rest immediate concerns about its demise. Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, who marked his first anniversary at the helm this month, has already managed to cut annualized costs by $390 million and steer the company on a broad restructuring path dubbed “Renew Blue,” which seeks $725 million in total savings. The former McKinsey & Co. management consultant is known as a corporate turnaround specialist, and he was hired specifically to address Best Buy’s many woes.

Chief among the problems: high prices. By routinely losing the price competition with rivals, particularly online retailers, Best Buy only exacerbated the phenomenon of showrooming, in which consumers use a physical store to peruse products they later purchase from a lower-priced website such as (AMZN). In the age of the smartphone, the problem has hardly been limited to electronics, yet Best Buy was particularly vulnerable as a result of prices that for many years have been more expensive than those most of its online competitors charge for identical products.

In February, the company said it was making permanent a holiday season trial program that promises to match the prices of 19 online competitors, as well as local stores. The price-match effort also offers a rebate to shoppers if Best Buy lowers its price on an item within 15 days of purchase. Beyond that program, the retailer is working to get prices more in line with rivals’ “to eliminate price as an obstacle to buying,” as Joly said on a Tuesday conference call with analysts. But that doesn’t mean Best Buy will undercut anyone. “We love the traffic on our site, in our stores, and we don’t want to lose a customer because of price. But we don’t feel that we need to be lower than (the) competition,” he said. “We just don’t want to be beat.”


Gap Makes Big Play With New Campaign

Gap sees a resurgence in their brand through a retail mainstay, the blue jean. According to an article on MediaPost, the new campaign is designed to get back to the Gap’s roots while luring in millennials.


From the article:

“Back to Blue means getting back to what matters most — our truest selves, when we are most comfortable in our own skin,” says Gap CMO Seth Farbman in its release. “It’s both a statement of how we feel as a brand, and how our customers want to live their lives and make their decisions.”

Much of the collection harkens back to the brand’s 1969 design roots. The effort includes a commitment to new digital content on a daily basis.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, there is a Tumblr contest, encouraging consumers to create content, with the winning work earning a spot on Gap’s Tumblr, which will then be turned into Tumblr mobile ads. Gap says it’s the first time a brand will own all of Tumblr’s mobile ads in one day.

Gap is also beefing up content and adding video to its platform, now in 30 counties, which partners with bloggers and style experts to create fall looks. There’s a series on style from Jenn Rogien, the costume designer for HBO’s “Girls,” for example. And it also includes features from 24 Gen Y style setters, including Tanisha Long from MTV’s “Girl Code” and “Urban Bush Babes” blogger Cipriana Quann, “sharing simple, raw and relatable stories about what it means to be one’s most authentic self,” it says. In the series of photos, short films and gifts, each appears in a favorite piece from the new fall “Back to Blue” collection.

Shopping with a tablet, retail localization

Tablets allow customers to know about your brand before they step into your store

We are entering the second biggest shopping season of the year, behind the Christmas holidays. Back to school shopping can mean big business for many retailers, and as students and parents of all ages step foot inside your brick-and-mortar store, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Shopping with a tablet, retail localization

According to a recent Forbes article, tablets are allowing shoppers greater insight into retail stores before they enter, including:

  • More than one-third of consumers use a tablet to conduct research on products and compare prices.
  • More than one-fourth of consumers use a tablet to purchase products.
  • One-fourth of consumers use a tablet to redeem coupons.
  • More than 18% of consumers use a tablet to search for retailer information.

From the article:

Retailers are preparing for the influx of consumers and sales. Most stores feature signage in primary colors with the words “school supplies” or “back-to-school sale.” In-store displays are effective; they draw consumer traffic to a specific location in the store. At Prosper Insights & Analytics, our data reveal that consumers plan to rely on technology to find out about the back-to-school deals long before they step foot into the store.

So regardless of your current sales, expand your ability to reach your target market through an effective website.

For a host of reasons – Selection, Quality, Convenience, Price, Product availability, Service, etc. – today’s Consumer is making sure they are “educated” before they come into your stores, or seek your manufactured product. Stay aligned with their aligned with needs. The mutual education will be a benefit to both of you.

campaign compliance is low, retail localization

Why is in-store compliance so low?

According to research conducted by Phillips, Foster & Boucher, the average percentage of campaigns that achieved full compliance for 2010/2011 were an average of 29% across eight different retail verticals. Only 21% of retailers independently monitor campaign compliance, and 79% just “assume” in-store displays are being executed. Factors such as lack of monitoring, lack of responsibility, and over complexity in the retail merchandising process contribute to this lack of awareness.

campaign compliance is low, retail localization

Roughly half of all in-store campaigns are seen as successful. What’s more shocking is that most retailers do not often attempt to uncover the cause of an unsuccessful campaign. Without monitoring down to the store level, there is little room for feedback, meaning there is no way to accurately measure which programs are reaching customers.

Where is this breakdown occurring?

69% of respondents say that the message is lost between the brick-and-mortar store and headquarters, partially due to the fact that their goals are not always in alignement. Within the store, display is often one of the lowest priorities, following customer service and merchandising. Display work is typically done only “if there is extra time”. Retail store staff is generally best at performing routine tasks, which contradicts the idea of creating an innovative and interactive store display. Having understaffed and misguided stores leads to different ideas of in-store execution.

Now the good news. With the right suite of visual merchandising management solutions, an accurate merchandising planning process is attainable. With these tools, communication becomes clear and precise, and retailers save time and money. Visual merchandising management solutions enable retailers access to real-time information needed to carry out accurate localized campaigns to their stores.

When the right product and messaging is delivered to the right store, at the right time, on the right fixture, retailers can drive the customer experience envisioned in the original planning process.

Target Corporation, In-store media

Target’s Innovation Comes From Within

The story of Target’s process of innovation, as told through one employee, Elwin Loomis. According to the Star Tribune, Loomis left Target after 12 years to work at a smaller, more innovative, company. A decade later, Loomis finds himself back at Target, but what he came back to was not the same company he left.

Target Corporation, In-store media

From the article:

“At Target, we’re at the right time, the right place and the right culture to really effect transformative change,” said Loomis, a senior group manager with emerging technologies. “There’s some really good stuff happening now.”

Two years after revamping its website, the Minneapolis-based retailer has gone on a digital tear, dramatically transforming a store-based culture ruled by marketers and merchandisers into an integrated innovation machine. The company that normally needs a year to plan collections of clothes and accessories now wants to roll out mobile apps and social media tools in just weeks.

“It’s not about just one physical manifestation on how you innovate like a research and development center,” said Beth Jacob, Target’s executive vice president and chief information officer. “Innovation is everyone’s day job.”

At times, Target seems to be operating at 4G speed. Over the past several months, the company has retooled Target Mobile, launched a digital coupon program via Facebook and live-streamed the doings of YouTube millennials residing in dorm rooms outfitted with Target merchandise that consumers could purchase by just scrolling over the products.

Such ambitious efforts come at a pivotal time for Target. The retailer has struggled to grow sales at its 1,784 stores in the United States as impatient and digital-savvy consumers flock to the Internet in search of deals, entertainment and convenience. As a result, retailers are searching for new sources of growth through online, mobile and social media.

IN-Store technology, shopper marketing

Hey, Retailers. Want to Grow? Invest in Technology.

Why are some retailers appearing to effortlessly reap the benefits of omni-channel marketing where others struggle? For starters, they invest in technology, analytics, and incentives that drive in-store growth.

IN-Store technology, shopper marketing

According to an article on MediaPost, L2’s latest Digital IQ index examined the differences between those retailers that get it, and those that don’t, to see exactly where the division lies.

From the article:

To reach its quantitative diagnosis, L2 — a think tank founded by NYU Stern clinical professor of marketing Scott Galloway — analyzed about 650 data points across four dimensions, including site and e-commerce, digital marketing, social media and mobile.

What are Zara and other digital dunces doing wrong? Galloway, on Friday, preferred to focus on what winning retailers are doing right. “The most successful specialty retailers are prioritizing technology investments, organizational incentives, and attribution metrics that drive online and in-store growth,” according to Galloway.

Which brands are winning the digital retail race? American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Coach, and Urban Outfitters, to name a few, by L2’s measurement. The retailers with the biggest year-over-year improvements in their digital IQ’s included Talbots — up 44% — Uniqlo — up 35% — and J.Crew — up 31%.

Overall, however, most specialty retailers still have a long way to go. While 69% of retailers in the study supported online purchase with in-store return, just 14% have made the requisite investments at point-of-sale to support in-store pickup — and only a handful have the capability to ship from the store, a service that provides for more flexible inventory management.