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 August 2007

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Chief Editor
& Visualiser

Anuraag S

Swati Bhalla

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Why is music played in malls and shops?

A primer towards the science of shopping

Celina goes to a shopping mall with the intention of buying a pair of jeans for herself. It would not be surprising if she selected the jeans, went to the cash counter and paid for it, typically a "grab and go" purchase. However, she ends up buying three more items from the store. What made her purchase more than intended?

Experts are of the opinion that shopping is not just acquisition of goods and services. It goes beyond that. It gives the shoppers a sensual pleasure, a sense of involvement, a romance with the items and the surroundings, and a "feel good factor". This explains the reason why non-cognitive processes like the ambience, the color, the aisle, the shelving, the music, lighting, texture et al are equally - and sometimes more important than cognitive dimensions.

Sound enhances a store's environment. It can use as a mood setter, an attention grabber, and an informer. Often music is used in retail stores to promote buying, to set stage for a particular shopping theme, or to remind consumers of a special season or holiday, such as Christmas.

The background music played in malls and shops help in psychological profiling or involuntary behavioral modification of the customers.

Background music really comes into its own when you hit the high street. Its uses suddenly become so complex and multifarious that you need an expert to guide you through the maze of psychological signifiers. Music can influence a lot of things in shops. The customer turnaround, the way people perceive the store, the way people behave while they're in there. Most people think they just switch off when they hear background music, but it does affect people's behavior at an involuntary level. If music's playing really loud, even if you're not really listening to it, you have to speak louder, and your gestures become somewhat modified. In a way, background music puts you on a lower level of consciousness. Silence gives you time to reflect, and if you reflect you might start to worry.

Why is music played in malls and shops? Why is music played in malls and shops?

Pick of the Month
August 2007

A chance to get noticed in the industry. A chance to show your creativity. A chance to participate and win display awards every month.
(submit your entries at [email protected])

Store Windows Featuring Jean Paul Gaultier                
Any Questions?

If you have any display or store planning/layout related questions, send it to us!
Mr. Surender Gnanaolivu, Concept Head - Lifestyle Dept. Store, Reliance Retail, will answer your questions... (Mr. Surender Gnanaolivu has a rich experience of 14yrs in Store Planning, Retail Planning, VM, Presentation & teaching Retail Management.)

(submit your questions at [email protected])

Interview with Peter Gilbert of Briggs & Riley Travelware on his job as Director of Visual Merchandising

Q. What led you to pursue a career in visual merchandising?
A. I was initially attracted to the visual aspect of the business when I worked along side a store merchandiser in the early stages of my career. I did not at first realize or understand exactly what "visual merchandising" meant until I started to assist in doing presentation set ups and small merchandising projects. What started out as "just helping" led me to develop a passion for merchandising.

Q. What are the primary responsibilities of your job?
A. My current job description is Director of Visual Merchandising; this role consists of a wide variety of different roles and responsibilities. My primary responsibilities include:

  • Development of brand visual standards
  • Responsible for the execution of visual merchandising standards in market
  • Responsible for creative development of all Brand Shop projects
  • Development of all in store Fixture and in store POS materials
  • Fixture inventory management
  • Manage field merchandising team
  • Market management
    • POS
    • In store events
    • Window creative
  • Trade show management
  • Act as eyes and ears in the market

Q. What is the routine of an average day for you?
A. I would like to be able to say that I have an average day, yet in all honesty, every day brings new challenges and you have to be prepared to plan your day in order to best support the needs of the business. If I had my choice, an average day or an ideal day, would consist of being in the market, working in stores with store personnel, and being able to play with the merchandising and visual presentations until I created the perfect presentation.

Q. Are there sources that you refer to for the development of your projects, and if so, did your company provide those resources?
A. The number one most valuable resource to me are other visual merchandisers, I love to pick people's brains to see what interests them and what catches their eye and why. I strongly believe that every merchandiser sees something different; it is being able to have a vision or an idea of others and blend it with yours to create the greatest impact. In addition, I like to use the market as a reference, I feel that is vital to spend time doing market research, this is where you learn & see what others inside and outside of your own industry are doing, it really inspires ideas and helps you to take ideas & implement them in a way that best suits your own brand. Lastly, both my grandfather and uncle are in senior management level retail merchandising positions; it is always nice to have them to go to when I have questions or ideas that I need feedback on.

Q. What is the typical process you go through for implementing a project?
A. Plan, Prioritize, and execute to plan. I feel that strong organization and effective planning is the best and the more efficient way to complete a project. It is really important to me to finish a project and know that it is 100% completed before I move on to the next project. While working on multiple projects, I always try to create a "priority list" for myself, I use this outline each project that I am working on and then I go through and label in order of priority what needs to be completed first. It is also important to include the "target completion date" this makes it easier to plan your time effectively.

Q. Do you communicate with others at your position level within the industry, and if so, how do you go about it?
A. Communication is the key to success in my mind. Over the years I have been able to meet many amazingly talented people within the industry. This has led to having many great resources and people to go to with questions, concerns, or ideas. It is really important to reach out to those who have similar roles and responsibilities as you do. This helps you to identify what is working for them and what challenges they may be facing that you too may encounter. My suggestion is to find that one person that you think is great at their job and latch onto them by asking every possible question you can to get the answers you need. If that person cannot provide the answers, ask someone else! Never stop asking questions.

Q. What would you consider character requirements for a job in the visual merchandising field?
A. Honesty, creativity, and being able to have a vision, speak to a vision and then the ability to execute to your vision.

Q. What are some of the positive aspects of your position in the visual merchandising field?
A. I am always challenged and never get bored in my job. I also love that I get to travel all around the country and meet people from all walks of life. I am inspired by people. I thrive on the interaction and this job allows me to draw from other people's creativity while at the same time it enables me to do what I was born to do- merchandise!

Q. What are some of the negative aspects of your position in the visual merchandising field?
A. Don't let anyone ever tell you it is an easy job. I have spent my time carrying tables on my back up stairs, preparing for last minute corporate walk troughs, working many consecutive over night shifts in my day. The bottom line is this is a job that challenges you to always do it better, do it differently and never lets you settle for substandard. My wife would say that I am a perfectionist, and that nothing is ever "perfect" in my eyes, yet in a way I think she is right, if it is perfect people would stop trying, I never want to stop trying to make it better and as long as I do that I will feel successful!

Q. What do you consider the preferred educational background for this position or others in the visuals department within your company?
A. Time in position! No matter how much education a person may have or how many books they have read, qualify them for the position more so that someone who has been on the job, doing the job and can speak to their abilities as a merchandiser. When it comes to visual merchandising, I think you either get it or you don't, I am pretty good about reading people and when I conduct an interview for visual merchandising candidates, I can instantly determine if the person will be qualified for the job by their overall attitude, attention to detail and ability to speak to their merchandising concepts and strategies. It is always a huge bonus to have an education or degree specializing in fashion merchandising or textiles.

Q. Do you have any predictions about industry business trends in the next few years?
A. I am confident that retailers will continue to see the value and important as well as the overall impact that visual merchandising has on their business. I would like to see many more VM positions become available over the next few years. I would also like to see people continue to push the envelope on visual merchandising. It is important to take smart risks and try it. If you don't try it, you will never know!

Note: This article is an excerpt from the original interview published on internet

Tip of the Month WhizBang! Training, Phone: 616-842-4237, Fax: 616-842-2977,
To sign up for your FREE Tip-Of-The-Week go to
E-mail: [email protected]

Make A Store Map

This idea improves customer service and sales at the same time. A win/win combo!


Make a simple map outlining what merchandise your customers will find in the different areas of your store. You could do it on the computer or have your second cousin, the artist, make a pretty hand drawn one for you. Sound crazy? It's not!
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

A store map improves customer service...

  • Makes it easier for your customer to shop in your store. Wal-Mart and Home Depot do it with huge permanent signs, you can do it with your easy-to-update map.
  • Lets your regular customers know where their favorite stuff is when you move it around.

A store map improves sales...

  • Provides your sales staff with a simple, genuine reason to approach the customer and begin building a relationship giving them the map and explaining it to them.
  • Shows your customer the many things you have to offer that they might not notice by just glancing around. The map is a little bit like a surrogate sales person.
  • Highlights areas that you want your customers to always check out (you know, that high margin merchandise).
  • Gives your customer a tangible representation of your store and all your wonderful merchandise to take home and/or share with a friend. (Think one page catalog) BE SURE to include your store name, hours, phone, fax, web site, e-mail address, etc. on your map!

VM Training

Window Display Case Study

1 The shape of the window is a ‘triangle’.

2 The lights are focused on the backdrop & on the head of the mannequin. In such windows, lights should be on the sides so that can be focused on the mannequin and merchandise properly & much effectively.

3 The props used are:
a. Golf-course view backdrop
b. Table
c. Golf Kit
d. Grass effect on the base (synthetic grass)

4 Observe the lights behind the base of the window. (Refer the Top View below)

5 Since, the display is targeting the premium customer, avoid using signage’s.

Window Display Case Study
Recommended Books  

Silent Selling: Practices and Effective Strategies for Visual Merchandising
2nd Edition
Judith Bell, Kate Ternus

Visual Merchandising 4
Watson-Guptill Publications, VM+Sd Magazine (Editor)

Contemporary Visual Merchandising
Emeritus Diamond, Ellen Diamond

Visual Merchandising and Display
Martin M. Pegler

Retail Desire: Design, Display and Visual Merchandising
Johnny Tucker

Creative Fashion Presentations
Polly Guerin

All of these books are available at Barnes & Noble:www.barnesandnoble.com

Is Visual Merchandising A Dying Art?
Contributed by Swati Bhalla

DALLAS- To say that this year's crop of store windows at the Galleria Dallas is unattractive will be wrong though. They catch your eyes, but do not hold your interest. You pass them by and sometimes, you don't even notice. In short, the main purpose of the store window, 'to catch the interest of a passerby and invite them in' was defeated.

Maybe it's because Americans in general are bombarded by advertising 24 hours a day, seven days a week on all forms of media. And that's the reason why when we see a bigger than life photo of an ad campaign in a store window, it does not even register anymore. A good example is Abercrombie & Fitch, a national retailer that seemed to have 'skipped' Christmas this year. Instead of jolly old Santa, A&F is announcing to the world that the new face of the brand is Matt Ratcliff, displaying bigger than life photos of the model in their store windows.

To be fair, Matt Ratcliff is good looking, yet during the holiday season, Santa Claus' kindly face gives more impact than a good looking hunk showing off his abs, proving that he works out. Sad to say, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, well known for their inventive store windows in New York fell into the same trap of cookie cutter' store window this season. You just can't help asking, what happened? Do all the good visual merchandisers or window dressers reside only in New York? Is there no one in Dallas at all?

Because the store windows shown at both Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue here in Dallas were generated by the advertising department, NOT the Visual Merchandising department! Have the 'Admen' of the early 1900s won over the 'Displaymen' of that era? There is 'Madison Avenue,' the hub of the advertising universe. But, except for New York's Fifth Avenue dubbed as the 'Miracle Mile' of store windows, there is really no hub of the visual merchandising universe at all! So, seeing the Louis Vuitton window after a few minutes walking away from Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue was truly uplifting.

Two 'original' store windows displaying accessories in the center of star-studded vortices is a reminder that visual merchandising is not dead yet; that there are still people out there who are creative and can do a proper store window without the 'cookie cutter' feel. The Louis Vuitton store window is a great example of brand spiraling without falling into the pitfall of being repetitious. In short, it was a perfect convergence of visual merchandising and advertising.

Send us your comments and feedback on [email protected] Your valuable suggestions can only let us improve this newsletter. For contribution of articles, snaps, information, do mail us. Hope you enjoyed this issue!! Happy displaying...