Klaus Lach – Vice President and Office Manager of VMM European Association for Visual Marketing / Merchandising e. V. and Managing Partner of OWD GmbH Agency for Visual Marketing.
Once the store is built and cleaned, the merchandise arrives. And they need to be skilfully presented if they are to catch the customer’s eye. Visual merchandisers implement what was previously designed in a visual marketing concept.
Visual marketing is becoming increasingly important in the marketing mix and is one of the key building blocks for success in retail. It is essentially based on two crucial insights: Most consumers find out about product offerings by looking in a store window and/or on the sales floor. Around two thirds of all purchasing decisions are made emotionally and unconsciously directly at the point of sale.
However, passers-by will only become customers if the window display and the staging on the sales floor are perceived as attractive and distinctive. This is the task of visual marketing. It creates a link between real life on the street and the imaginative store interior and therefore aims at an attractive, customer-oriented exterior and interior presentation. The individual messages conveyed via the shop window or the salesroom compete strongly with the information provided by competitors.
We need to look at life from a different perspective. We look for places of retreat to meditate, to activate our own creativity. The designs should be geared towards this, especially in the retail spaces. The elements, nature, the sea or the sky are sources of inspiration. The design reflects emotional authenticity.
The task of visual marketing is therefore to use effective design elements to give the products presented in a particular context a unique dramaturgical appearance. It is important to enter into a “visual dialog” with the viewers. Visual marketing writes a “visual script” for this. It assembles into a film in the mind of the passer-by, in order to ultimately put him or her in the mood to buy, either gently, subliminally or unambiguously. To achieve this, the visual stimulus points should appeal to as many senses as possible.
Visual merchandising is an important part of visual marketing. This involves the implementation of visual marketing strategies in the store. The focus is on store design and sales promotion measures. Visual merchandising ensures the consistent implementation of communication in the sales strategy at the point of sale (or in showrooms, at trade fairs or events).
You can relax in a bird’s nest at the M.I. Bookstore in Harbin, China.
In visual merchandising, a logical structure is essential in the presentation of goods. Goods are presented in coherent product images according to color, size and affiliation. At the same time, additional incentives are staged, such as lighting design, scent or music. Thus, not only the merchandise but also its surroundings are designed in an atmospheric manner, thus creating a favorable mood for the incentive to buy. The merchandise is presented through a targeted overview and emotional design in such a way that it speaks for itself without additional arguments from sales staff. The staging optimally highlights all relevant product information (basic or additional benefits). This ensures that customers can obtain information quickly and in a targeted manner.
“The greatest challenge for visual marketing/visual merchandising is to make the credibility and authenticity of retail brands tangible at the point of sale. It is essential to find the visual key in brand communication and to support retail with visual design elements. Stationary retail rightly expects this competence from us as experts in view of the strong growth of e-commerce.”
Urbanization is advancing. More than 70 percent of Western Europe’s population lives in cities, and the trend is rising. This results in a new longing for authenticity, reconciliation with nature and sustainability. People are looking for home and country products to be reminded of the “good old days at mother’s house.” In the cities, the longing for nature is being fulfilled, for example, by greening house facades or creating green recreational islands in the inner cities. Houses are increasingly being built from recycled materials.
Retailers, too, will have to embrace sustainability in their visual marketing and demonstrate ecological awareness. This also includes bringing nature into the store. So: green walls, use wooden merchandise supports, build small forests in the sales area with tree elements and branches. Use flowers or floral wallpaper, use natural-looking exposed aggregate concrete. Especially in visual marketing, where materials are often only used for a short period of time, there is enormous potential to demonstrate sustainability. Store concepts can make use of resource-saving, single-variety and environmentally friendly materials, such as wood, paper, cardboard or textiles. It is important to pay attention to materials that do not have plastic coatings and are water-soluble.
The mannequins should also be made of renewable materials. In addition, it makes sense to use the merchandising elements over a longer period of time; if necessary, older elements can be refurbished, or we exchange decorative elements among colleagues.
Up to now, retailers have mainly addressed customers in shop windows and at the point of sale with posters, displays or other eye-catchers. But media overload is making it increasingly difficult for these traditional, static advertising media to hold their own.
New, interesting presentation platforms that inform and entertain consumers are increasingly gaining ground. They are described by the term digital signage. These innovative variants involve the use of digital media content in special advertising and information systems. Plasma or LCD screens are placed in the shop window, for example, to convey campaign or product information.
These contents can be transported via digital forms of advertising:
1. product presentation and demos also as a running video sequence
2. image integration, e.g. in TV news formats
3. special offers
4. regional and national news
5. commercials and music videos
6. quiz or games
In the Winter Garden at Woolrich, there’s more nature than goods.
At escalators or elevators, service terminals act as wayfinding systems. Kiosk systems are also increasingly being used. At these terminals, customers can obtain audiovisual information about the store’s products and services, either on their own or with the support of sales staff. For example, they can use them interactively to obtain product advice, pay at the terminal or submit product ratings. It is also possible to link offline and online activities, as customers can also order directly from the online store. A link to the online store can also be created by displaying QR codes on selected advertising media that link to the store page.
The so-called point-to-multipoint method is of interest to store companies. With this unique information and communication tool, the maintenance of information is controlled from a central location and disseminated to different information systems in the store by means of data transmission. In this way, individual messages can be entered for each store.
Luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana shows humor with a rustic shop window, moving plush chickens included.
Visual marketing writes the visual script for the products in the store
Visual merchandising implements the visual marketing strategies in the store