Emotions abound during the holiday season. Joy. Nostalgia. Anticipation. It’s all part of the fancy-wrapped package that makes this season what it is. But retailers looking for ways to connect and reconnect with shoppers are realizing they need to tap into those emotions and feelings more than once a year. And one indispensible tool for every retailer to build that relationship is visual merchandising.
During VMSD’s International Retail Design Conference this October, I sat in a packed room as three retail icons – creative consultant Tom Beebe, Paul Olszewski of Macy’s and James Damian, formerly with Best Buy – sat coffee-talk style discussing a subject so near and dear to their hearts. The energy: palpable. The inspiration: priceless.
Their overwhelming sentiment was that visual merchandising is getting respect in the board room again. “Sales people thought all we did was make things pretty,” said Olszewski, Macy’s director of windows. “But we create an emotion, we create a design, we create a shopping experience.” And it’s that excitement, that expectation, that environment that keeps shoppers coming back. “The experience is the marketing,” said Damian.
And what better place to witness that power than in New York during the holidays. It’s an irresistible draw to travel to New York in December, see the stores dressed up to the nines and join the wide-eyed crowds of young and old seeking a view of the holiday windows at Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys ... the list goes on like a child’s letter to Santa.
And then there’s the A.R.E. Retail Design Collective, December 8-10, where more than 30 showrooms are unveiling new products and designs to inspire us throughout the coming year. On Thursday, December 9, VMSD hosts a “Visual Merchandising Takes Center Stage” session moderated by VMSD New York editor Eric Feigenbaum, which brings together some of the biggest names in visual to discuss the best trends of 2010 and what we can expect in 2011.
Just as the holidays are a good reminder each year to be thankful for all that we’ve been given, visual merchandising is a good reminder of why we do what we do. To create excitement in retail.
On behalf of the staff of VMSD and ST Media Group, we wish you the best during this most wonderful time of year.