Back-to-school makes pupils actually want to go to school!

Summer, sun and holiday fun. A time of freedom for pupils. But even the longest holidays have to come to an end at some point. For paper, office supplies and stationery retailers, this time is a great chance to appeal to pupils who are back from their holidays and actually make them want to go to school. Because there are endless possibilities as to how you can visually make the topic of "back-to-school" the focus of attention of customers and children.

With symbols such as books, blackboards or the ABC, you can create an easy-to-recognise "back-to-school" framework – but that doesn't exhaust all the creative possibilities. When coming up with new ideas, retailers and window-dressers should keep in mind that a fancy display suggests one thing to the subconscious of customers: they can buy some very special products there. Because it's not just specialist shops that sell exercise books, pens and pencil cases, but also drugstores, supermarkets and the Internet. Besides good and competent advice, it's primarily the visual accents that make a visit to a store a shopping experience and that linger in customers' memories, making them want to go there again and again.

What draws the attention of elementary school pupils in your back-to-school display this year might be a colourful elephant juggling school bags or the "ABC". Something like "Elmer the Patchwork Elephant" from the children's book of the same name by David McKee offers a suitable template for this. Retailers who are good at DIY can design their own elephant, or have it sawn out of a wooden board and painted by pre-schoolers. Then the children and parents can admire their handiwork in the window or in the shop itself – and they might take the opportunity to perhaps discover or buy a thing or two for their children's school bag.

If all that sounds like too much work, then you can make an eye-catcher from some colourful bunting decorated with diamonds, dots, letters and stripes, and hang it up in the shop between the display table and the ceiling to draw attention to the products seen from afar. Or your shop could hold a drawing competition for children of pre-school age called "How I imagine my first day of school to be", and the pictures will be the eye-catching element of the back-to-school display. The children can draw a picture in the shop, in their kindergarten or in their own home and the customers select the most beautiful one. The winner gets a bag full of school-related goodies and all other participants receive a giveaway.

To appeal to teenage pupils, you could have a stylised, brick-effect wall with graffiti saying "back-to-school" on it. All you need is a wooden board with brick-effect wallpaper stuck onto both sides of it and then hung from the ceiling with the aid of two hooks. The letters are plotted out and glued onto the wallpaper. School bags on skateboards can be attached to the wall as additional eye-catchers. The easiest way to do this is to borrow suitable skateboards from a local business partner. Do you have enough space available and can you use Euro pallets rather than tables to display the goods on? If you can make use of this option, you should, because the overall look of the display appeals more to the target group on account of the pallets and is more likely to catch their attention.

Retailers that have customers with a weakness for playful, slightly nostalgic and graphic displays and who are on the lookout for non-mainstream products could make the range of the "Krima & Isa" company the heart of their display. Cute little mice and chickens invite you to go on a journey of discovery, gracing booklets, class schedules and a lot more. A nice assortment and a veritable treasure trove of ideas for your own display.

As you can see, "back-to-school" is a topic with many facets and display options. Be it cool, cute, playful, nostalgic or colourful - everything is possible. What's important is that you know your own focus and the main target group of your customers so you can create an appropriate display, ensuring it looks just right for them. The more attention to detail that is possible, the more emotional and unique the overall result will be and this will stimulate your customers' desire to buy.

About the author

Sabine Gauditz is an expert in visual marketing in the retail sector. Since 1986, she has been designing and arranging sales-promoting product presentations for various industries and redesigning the ambience of retail spaces. Together with Hans Schmidt, she founded the visual marketing consultancy, Arte Perfectum, in 2002. Since then, she has been holding seminars and workshops and offering in-house consultancy services.

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