Visual merchandising: the element of surprise at Christmas

While there may be much talk of reflection, contemplation and the romance of Christmas, in reality we tend to notice little of this when we need to pick up a quick gift. Shopping trips in the run-up to Christmas may sometimes involve more rushing and stress than eager anticipation. Given this, many customers will ask themselves beforehand, “Do I really want to face the hustle and bustle of the shops or might it be easier to order my gifts online here and now?”. 

There are a number of things that retailers can do to ensure that the answer is, “There’s no way I’m missing out on the Christmas shopping experience at my favourite store.” 

Incorporate trends through activities 

Lifestyle trends are ubiquitous on social media and should be incorporated at the point of sale (POS) as activities and design highlights. Topics such as zero waste, upcycling and DIY can serve as inspiration for customer events and presentation ideas alike. In creative workshops, customers young and old can make Santas out of egg cartons, produce Christmas tree ornaments from can lids, turn PET bottles into baubles and so on. 

Create eye-catchers

The pandemic has further underscored the importance of spending time with friends and family. The “celebrate Christmas together” theme can be visualised with a large festively laid table within the store and in the display window. The element of surprise thus elicited then creates curiosity. After all, hardly anybody would expect this from a stationery specialist.

Depending on the target market, the traditionally laid Christmas table may be styled to convey opulence and extravagance or a cheerful and vibrant vibe. The crockery, glasses and cutlery should complement each other in terms of appearance and form the basis for the arrangement. Products such as deluxe writing instruments, notepads, magnifiers, etc., can be made centre stage through being “served” on plates, cake stands and bowls. Place cards inscribed with names, such as Gran, Dad, Lena and Auntie May, can be used to indicate who might especially like to receive which gift. This provides inspiration to customers and helps them to make the right choice. The more detail and affection go into the table arrangement, the more impressive the effect on the customers will be.  

Decide on a colour scheme

You don’t want your display window or point of sale to look topsy-turvy or cluttered. So it is important to choose your colours right at the planning stage. You are not required to stick to a traditional red/green/gold colour scheme for your Christmas decorations. A luxuriously elegant table arrangement might feature accents in violet, turquoise and fuchsia, while the nature trend could be reflected in browns, moss greens and cream tones. Think shiny and sparkly, matt and velvety or strong and vibrant. Our perception of the various colours but also the haptic experience we derive from them play a role in achieving the desired effect. 

Wow customers

Retailers that give free and full rein to their creativity are sure to win over their customers. Children might draw up their Christmas wish list in store or sign up for a personal postcard from Santa that they can return a week later. Invite your customers to become part of a collective story. For example, you might encourage them to hang upcycled Christmas decorations they have created themselves on a big Christmas tree in the store. Each ornament could be photographed for the store’s website or Instagram page, asking followers to vote for the most creative offering, with the winner receiving a voucher. 
Deluxe, surprising, delightful, special...whichever Christmas décor you decide on, aim to exceed customers’ expectations of their shopping experience and reward them for their decision to come to the city centre to make their purchases. 

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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