When looking at visual merchandising, whatever industry you happen to be working for at the time, it is important to tailor your design to meet the needs of that industry’s target audience. If you don’t appeal to the masses, if you don’t ‘speak their language’ your design campaign will fall on deaf ears, resulting in a subsequent lack of success for retail merchandising as a whole.
It is important to be able to tailor your design techniques to suit the needs of your target audience, otherwise you are just making a one-size-fits-all product; something that will do in a pinch but isn’t really addressing any specific tastes or needs. In highly competitive industries such as Paris’s fashion industry, a marketing plan such as this simply won’t fly.
In order to be able to properly market your product to your target audience, you need to get a good idea of what works, what your target audience is used to and what they will expect from your store or brand name.
There are a number of design features you want to keep in mind when planning out your visual merchandising on the streets of pairs. They are as follows: Store Layout, Furnishings, Music, Lighting and Flooring and Window Displays among others.
It is important to make sure that the store layout is attractive and effective for your target audience. Although it is largely dependent on what you happen to be selling and where you are selling it, generally store layouts follow the same sort of formula. Across Paris, you will often see spacious layouts with a minimalist style in the main streets, showing off a small stock that is clearly on display.
As you walk through to the more crowded sections of the city, including small local shops and bakeries, you will see the layout differs slightly. Open spaces give way to more compact shops lined with products that are all on display. There is a place for everything and everything has its place, where you can clearly see what is on sale from the shop window.
Like the store layout, furnishings were fairly uniform a few years ago, however recently more and more retail outlets have been steering more towards the ‘weird is good’ angle. By clashing contemporary clothing designs and products with classical furnishings such as chandeliers, big recliners, leather pouffes and archaic bookcases, these furnishing are designed to draw you in. It says ‘look at us, we’re unique, we’re different’ and can appeal to that ‘quirky’ side of us that likes individuality.
Lighting and Flooring
While you may not attribute major retail success to the choice of lighting and flooring in shop spaces, it all contributes to making the product look as good as possible. Throughout Paris you will see a good contrast; in some outlets the lighting will be stark to draw out the unique colours of the clothes and products on display. In other places you may see a more subtle mood lighting, with certain products highlighted under small spotlights.
Flooring is also important. A bright patterned flooring may be good for a perfume or soap shop, but it looks overbearing and untidy in a dress shop or other clothes store. You want your choice of flooring to complement the products on sale, not compete with them.
This can be a tricky one as it depends a lot on what is being sold. Fashion outlets may play the latest in the charts, branching out into international artists in tourist-heavy areas such as Paris, Lille, and Poitiers, but in general music shouldn’t be too loud, again it should complement the style of the outlet. Shops with loud music may attract a more introverted shopper, but generally people like to be able to listen to themselves think.
Mannequins are as popular as ever with many window displays, and there seems to be no preference over fully formed mannequins instead of simple torsos. They can be posed independently, re-creating a summer or winter scene to highlight certain products, or posed in an unnatural scene that is designed to make you stop and look twice. These latter scenes don’t always make sense but they certainly attract the attention of the passer-by.
In some cases these retail techniques may seem a little random and out-of-character, but you have to remember that extensive market research is often conducted before integrating any kind of visual merchandising technique. The reason we still see strange mannequin scenes and archaic furnishings is that they really work in drawing the target audience in from the street. Do your research, but don’t be afraid to try something new if it is in small doses. There is nothing to be learned by sticking to the same techniques, so try and see what you can discover!
Article provided by Prop Studios, a multi-award winning company specialising in the design, project-management, manufacture and installation of professional retail window display designs.