Visual merchandising is defined as a form of marketing which involves arranging and displaying products in a retail space in order to maximize customer attention on the products. Visual merchandising was initially a preserve of brands with physical retail stores, but with the advent of digitization, especially as necessitated by the COVID-19 related changes in the retail shopping sector, visual merchandising is not more than ever useful in the digital shops.
Modern visual merchandising is comprised of a number of elements which will be discussed below, including:
- Color: Color is used to communicate different moods and tones. There are different emotions evoked by different colors, hence it is important to be careful to select brand colors that communicate the message the brand seeks to reflect. For example, brands in the agribusiness industry are best suited with colors that relate to fruitfulness, such as green, and not all shades of green, but very specific shades. Brands that sell bottled water would almost always use blue that reflects water, life. In order to understand the effect of color on customer perception, see the in-store transformation of retail stores like Quickmart.
- Lighting: Lighting is used to set the mood of the whole store, and highlight or draw attention to specific areas or products. For example, one can install spotlights to strategically draw attention to jewelry in a bridal store.
- Space: Space is used to deliberately influence customers to spend time in specific areas within the store. For example, creating a resting space near the bakery within a supermarket is almost always a guarantee of increased sales from the bakery.
- Sound: Sounds are also used to set the mood of the whole store. Cool music like jazz and blues versus Rock and Hip-hop will definitely have different effects, and may influence different audiences. It is critical for a brand to know who their audience is, and what kind of music would make them feel more comfortable. Older people are more likely looking for an atmosphere that is relaxed to give them peace of mind, and so are people who have just come from work, so high energy music is most likely not the best choice of such a store. See our guide on market targeting.
- Smell: smell creates the atmosphere of a place. Just like color, certain smells are linked with specific emotions/ feelings, which can range from disgust, calm to excitement. Additionally, smells can trigger memories and positive or negative associations, so it is also very careful to be aware of one’s audience and choose a color that resonates with such an audience.
- Technology: As mentioned earlier, with restrictions such as physical distancing in stores, technology, such as digital displays and interactive installations, will definitely be the way to go, mostly to enhance customers’ engagement and make them feel confident. For example, automation can be used to interact with customers so that there is limited need for interaction with employees and other customers.