by Martin M. Pegler
If visual merchandising or display is vital anywhere in the retail space, it must be where impulse items are being offered. The whole concept of “impulse shopping” is based on attracting the shopper to a product that she did not come into the store to buy. It means, “waving a flag” in front of her—making her stop, take notice of, maybe try or touch, and then buy.
To accomplish this, stores that are saturated or overloaded with visual images, signs, and heavy presentations of stock need to be opened up, simplified, and the product needs to be presented in more focused and more targeted attention-getting displays.
It means also appealing as much as possible and as often as possible to all of the shopper’s senses. SIGHT is foremost: that takes light and color. Without targeted highlights and contrasts of color what is being offered may be overlooked. It also takes contrasts of textures—clear and easily understood signage and whenever possible, lifestyle displays that set the mood and place for the product.
SMELL, where and if possible, is another impulse awakener. Women respond to the aromas of flowers—men respond to the odors of the out-of-doors, to leather and fresh scents. All people respond to the aroma of fresh baked breads, brewing coffee, etc.
By contrasting textures you can appeal to the shopper’s sense of TOUCH. Once someone feels or touches a product and they begin to react to it, the feeling of having and holding it isn’t far off.
The SOUND of music, if properly selected for the particular targeted market, can soothe and relax the shopper and cause her to let her emotions take over. Once she is guided by her feelings, her desires and her wants, not her needs, the impulse shopping takes over.
If you can get the shopper to try on the garment—and she sees herself in the right light, against a soft, neutral background and with flattering light on her face—she is sold! The impulse becomes a sale!!
If the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a few sips of the brew was not enough to draw the shopper to the array of coffee pots beautifully presented, accessorized with a color coordinated table cloth and cups and saucers—maybe even an array of cookies (real ones, preferably home baked)—an amusing milk or cream container, then the high lighting will do it. A display that offers a sampling almost always gets the desired attention, especially when it is bathed in bright light.
Impulse shopping needs to be stimulated and encouraged and that can only be achieved by appealing to the shopper’s lifestyle and all of her senses.
Martin M. Pegler is an author, editor, educator and lecturer, and has been a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY for over 30 years. He has worked with theIHA Global Innovation Awards (gia) from the beginning of the gia program in 2000 as an Expert Juror, and since 2016 as an honorary member of the gia Expert Jury.
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