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The “Ah” Moment

Tap into the power of visual merchandising to translate emotions into sales.



Call it the equivalent of stopping shoppers in their tracks, but during the judging of VMSD’s 2012 International Visual Competition, there was an “ah” heard around the room when images of this year’s Best in Show project were projected onto the screen.

As our distinguished panel of retailers and visual merchandising professionals continued to “ooh” and “ah” over the submissions from around the globe, the comments started to flow: “Beautiful composition.” “The lighting is fantastic.” “I love how it creates a story.”

If your in-store merchandising displays and store windows aren’t eliciting the same types of responses from shoppers, then you’re missing the mark – and the sale.

“It’s all about the product,” says David Hogrefe, managing director, Fitch (Columbus, Ohio), and one of this year’s judges. “The visual environment enhances the sale.”

For inspiration, turn to page 14 for VMSD’s trend report on visual merchandising, followed by our official presentation of this year’s competition winners.

To create your own jaw-dropping displays, our judges remind retailers and designers to think like a customer to see if your visual strategies are making it easier to shop your stores. They also caution against falling back on your old, pre-recession ways of speaking to them. Ask yourself, is it effective now? Are you overwhelming consumers with too many ideas, or providing them with a fresh, edited assortment of products displayed in an eye-catching manner?


After spending a day this past May choosing their top picks, our competition judges sat down for one last round of arm wrestling to pick the Best in Show. Judges felt what stood out in the Nobis Concession project for Harrods (London) was the overall innovation and creativity, from the ice-cave themed environment and the “melting” floor graphic to the authentic antler detailing on the fixturing. “It introduces the line in a creative, grand way,” says Brent Hodge, owner, Creative Thought (Cincinnati), “but it’s also shoppable.”

And that’s the moment when that dress, that new accessory or that pair of shoes goes from a product on the shelf to an item in your customer’s shopping bag.



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Strategy needs creative, and creative needs strategy—yep, having both is really the only way of unifying all disciplines with a common vernacular with an eye toward building a strong creative vision that is foundational to the processes. Hear from Bevan Bloemendaal, former VP, Global Environments & Creative Services at Timberland, how to connect the dots between disciplines, claiming and creating a clear differentiation for the brand and ensuring that any asset (experience, product, ad, store, office, home, video, game) is created with intention.

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