Restaurant marketing strategies to encourage real reviews

Social media, travel, and review sites can be a great testament to your business’s credibility, customer service, amenities, and experiences. The problem is, most people only write reviews when they’ve had a shockingly horrific experience, or were completely blown away by something. But how do you encourage the masses of happy, satisfied customers in between those two spectrums to write reviews? A great place to start is with a well-devised approach- be it in terms of marketing your restaurant, or promoting your hotel, resort, or tourist attraction.

The formula is simple. Whenever you make a request of your customer – whether it’s asking for an email address or seeking a review – you must be certain that you give them something of equal value in return. Simple campaigns that exchange real value for real reviews will bring your existing customers closer to your brand, while in turn, generating new reach within your target audience. Here, BIGEYE shares the following quick and easy recommendations – in case you were in need of a little added inspiration:

For restaurants and bars

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that locals are truly your best friends. Use this to your advantage by employing restaurant marketing strategies that encourage local reviews. Attract your seasonal audience by engaging restaurant review sites such as Yelp and OpenTable. Host “locals’ nights” and offer a free appetizer to anyone who writes a review. Invite reviewers to preview new menu items or cocktail variations on the house … in exchange for a review, of course. Chances are, your reviewers will want to come back for more … tell their friends … or maybe even spread the word to those random tourists they bumped into on the street.

While some restaurants and bars host trivia night. Take things to the next level with your approach to restaurant marketing by hosting your very own branded “social media night.” Tweet-ups, meet-ups, and other social gatherings are hugely popular. Get people in the door by offering discounts, free bites, or some form of entertainment. Plan these activities on your traditionally slower evenings to boost business you wouldn’t otherwise have  – and to encourage all your guests to review, post, and Instagram away. Possible prize offerings may be awarded for tweets and reviews, or simply let people generate their own buzz around your business.

For hotels and resorts

Offer customers a deep discount or give them one night free for a good review. Chances are, your guests will stay longer than one night, and will be so pleased with their “free” vacation they’ll be more inclined to make up the difference in food and beverage costs or on-site amenities. If you’re worried people will “game the system,” put straightforward terms and conditions around the offer to limit one freebie per household. (This will ensure that the reviewer was a visitor within the past six months.) You’ll get a great review  – and some extra business in the process.

Another option is to create a brand ambassador program. Use a point or discount system to reward guests for meaningful social media posts, photos, and reviews. This strategy may promote quantity over quality, so consider using an “application” process that asks potential brand ambassadors why they’d be a great fit, and what unique social media skills they bring to the table.

For tourist attractions

Most travel destinations boast a host of unique activities. You can’t miss swimming with the dolphins in Mexico. Wine tasting in France or Surfing lessons in California. And most of these activities are prime photo opportunities. But as you might have experienced for yourself, even the most seasoned selfie-taker has trouble capturing these moments from the perfect angle. At the end of each activity, guests begrudgingly head toward the photo stand, where professional photography of their adventure is on display. Sneakily, some guests may attempt to covertly snap a copy on their phone, while many visitors simply choose not to purchase these photos on principle. If you offer one digital copy in exchange for a review (which can be easily emailed after the review is verified), you are creating a currency your customers genuinely value. There’s no overhead cost to you, and consequently, plenty of opportunity for gain. 

Because most tourist attractions are one-off experiences that come with a premium price tag, providing discounts on future visits may not be the best strategy. Most often, this is due in part to the low volume of repeat customers. Instead, let your guests give the gift of their memories to others. Let them know that when they write a review, they have the opportunity to share a meaningful discount with a friend. This technique perpetuates your business and makes your customers feel good for reviewing you, while also sharing something with their friends and family. That’s what we call a win-win.

Did these strategies peak your interest when it comes to encouraging your valued customers to share more about their dynamic, memorable experience with your brand? To continue the conversation by uncovering additional opportunities to engage with your target audience, and develop repeat clientele through reviews, contact our team of advertising professionals today!

To Target: Retail lessons learned from the Lilly Pulitzer collab.

Bonafide “Lilly Lovers” arrived in droves in the wee hours of the morning. Decked out in shades of varying pastels, they came, they shopped, they conquered.

A lucky few were even fortunate enough to walk away with coveted pieces from the recent Lilly Pulitzer for Target collaboration. Others returned to their local stores’ packed parking lots – many after waiting in lines reminiscent of Black Friday electronics extravaganzas – without a preppy, patterned shift dress in sight. And that was just the brick and mortar side of the story.

Online, shoppers set alarm clocks, filled social media group chats in anticipation, and highlighted favorites from the pre-launch release of the Lilly “look book” at Target.com, long before the much buzzed about website launch on April 19, 2015. The moment the site went live – at approximately 1:00am EST, a similar fashionista frenzy ensued.

Admittedly, that was yours truly. In my pj’s, hardly able to sleep a wink – MacBook in one hand, iPhone in the other, trying to take it all in (and with a little dose of Lilly luck, hoping to end up with at least one Nosey Posie printed item in my shopping cart). And my lust wasn’t limited to women’s and children’s clothing – also included in the collection were a bevy of cute collectible housewares, ranging from pillows to folding beach chairs, and oh, did I mention cosmetic cases? So, why all of the hullabaloo surrounding an existing brand’s capsule collection? Moreover, why the unbridled excitement for a brand that was founded six decades ago?

AdWeek hit the nail on the bow-adorned head when it comes to retail lessons learned, “Target may have partnered with high-end brands in the past, but Lilly Pulitzer is the first old-guard, social-register brand to sign on, and that makes a big difference.” You’ve got that right. It might just be the brand’s iconic status, and Jackie Kennedy-inspired longevity that actually helped to generate the social buzz to begin with. While some fans – many willing to pay full price in a retail store – were none too pleased at the thought of their treasures potentially “degrading the brand” with a wholesale-style partnership, most “bargainistas” rejoiced wholeheartedly.

In case you find yourself scratching your forehead in full-on preppy puzzlement, here’s a little backgrounder on The Lilly Story. Pulitzer, the brand’s founder and namesake was a prominent socialite who, in 2013, passed away as an heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, after first marrying into the renowned Pulitzer publishing family. According to AdWeek, Pulitzer found herself, “stranded and bored in her Palm Beach manse in 1959, and decided she needed something to keep herself busy, so she opened a fruit juice stand on Worth Avenue. To hide the stains from the oranges and grapefruits she was squeezing, Pulitzer found some colorful cotton prints and made a shift dress from it.” And there you have it: a fashion success story is born. Palm Beachers embraced the printed frocks, the brand soon expanded, resulting in store openings throughout South Florida, and eventually spreading across the East Coast. Shortly thereafter, Jackie O was photographed in a custom Lilly, only further catapulting the company’s popularity.

Return to current day, and “Pink Sunday” as it was affectionately labeled, and the marketing success of the Lilly for Target collab just simply cannot be underscored. According to Roy DeYoung, senior vp of creative strategy for PM Digital, “History is the reason people lined up—they want the Lilly Pulitzer at a good price, and they know it’ll be good, if not exceptional quality, with Target for the price point,” said DeYoung. “But they also know it’ll go fast. Target makes an event out of doing these deals and collaborations every couple of years, and to sell out like this, it’s a circus.” Cue the “under the bigtop” theme music.

Starting with the initial online reveal via Refinery 29, and culminating with the aforementioned “look book,” Target rounded out the juggernaut with a commercial spot featuring “the most lavish pool party ever, complete with the likes of Jay Gatsby.” Take a gander at the commercial – (featuring Chris Noth, or Mr. Big for all you SATC fans) – here. I mean honestly, who wouldn’t want to attend a lavish Lilly shindig…or at least look perfectly polished and impeccably dressed like the attendees?

Given the buzz, not only did fans line up by the hundreds outside of Target locations nationwide, but racks were emptied in mere minutes. Those waiting in the wee hours at home in their jammies didn’t fail to disappoint either. As a result, the company’s website was not equipped to handle the mass hysteria of online traffic, inaccessible just moments after the mere early leak of links to merchandise went viral. Feverishly clicking on anything and everything that they could (present company included), frustration peaked quickly – and spread voraciously – across social media circles, forcing the retailer to issue repeated apologetic tweets to the frantic masses.

With such an overwhelming response – most certainly any retailer’s dream come true – the hot pink elephant in the room is definitely whether or not the laws of supply and demand apply for a limited edition, capsule collection. Is the budgeted retail marketing build-up and buzz worth the potential to upset shoppers (many of whom possess money to spend) when limited product supply leaves so many empty-handed, – making it more the norm that the exception? With no limit to the number of items a consumer was permitted to purchase, the only restriction for Lilly for Target shoppers in this case included a limited 14-day return policy for pieces from the collaboration.

According to USA TODAY, this reaction is not atypical of past collabs, as items included in these “for Target” collections are often seen as collectors’ items, fetching more than double the regular retail price on auction sites such as eBay. Not so coincidentally, when Target launched its Missoni line in 2011, the Italian designer’s fan base reacted in the exact same fashion (pun intended), lining-up, clearing shelves, and crashing the retailer’s website as quickly as items flew off the in-store racks. Shortly after the launch, Lifestyle blogger Stacy Geisinger summed it up bluntly: “Target failed,” she said. “Their website crashed. So much promotion and not enough product. They could have made a fortune. Instead they have many disappointed customers.”

From a fiscal perspective, does a short-order offer in limited supply, with perceived value well beyond the price tag, really make it worthwhile to both the retailer and the consumer? It clearly does if you’re a seller on eBay. For example, Lilly Pulitzer beach towels, retail priced at $25 each, were listed on the ecommerce site for a starting bid of $50, or a “buy it now” price of $250 for a set of four. Yikes.

Buyer backlash hasn’t ended there – soon after Pink Sunday, a movement started on Facebook to boycott such inflated prices. The group’s profile reads: “Boycott eBay sellers who are marking up Lilly by Target after clearing shelves of merchandising only to turn a profit.” Just like the Missoni launch, limited Lilly supply caused gross consumer demand, with shoppers hoarding as many items as possible into a single shopping cart. Make that more than one in some cases. I can attest to groggily waiting in line prior to my store’s opening, making small talk with a married couple behind me, and listening in as the begrudging husband was given a mandated Lilly housewares “honey-do” shopping list. Who needs to be limited to a single cart?

While some may disagree, I think the reward might just outweigh the risk, or perhaps that’s because I emerged victorious both online and in-store. To paraphrase a tweet from a fellow Lilly Lover, “I might not have scored every item I’d been eyeing on my Lilly for Target wish list, but I did wake on Monday feeling triumphant in the spoils of my labor.” Amen, sister. Amen.

Would I allow myself to subsist on a mere two hours of sleep again in the name of fashion? Maybe not. Well, I guess that all depends on Target’s next designer collaboration. As Lilly herself once said, “Anything is possible with sunshine – and a little pink.”

In search of more tips and tricks to navigate the retail marketing landscape – hype included? Contact our experienced team of brand strategists today!

Differentiation and retail consumer packaged goods design

With great packaging, comes great power.
We may have butchered the Spiderman quote just a bit, however when referring to retail consumer packaged goods design, these truly are wise words for a brand to live by.

When analyzing consumer behavior, and contemplating the all-important psychology behind a buying decision, it might seem relatively obvious, but prospective consumers will tend to notice a product’s packaging first; and arguably, a product’s packaging is just as important as the product itself. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve willingly skipped over, or perhaps even overlooked, a potentially great product, simply because the packaging seemed inefficient, cluttered, or just didn’t catch my eye. As the old adage goes, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – but if it saves me money, and prevents the opportunity for me to unknowingly taking home an inferior product, I’ll likely stick to my gut, and the lasting first impression of a brand as it’s been initially instilled in my brain. And did I mention that if delivered in a manner that is enticing enough to match-up with a product’s perceived value, it’s hard to resist temptation? Many retailers are well aware of this game – and have it completed mastered – although some have taken heed of how to maximize the effectiveness of retail consumer packaged goods design concepts and strategies.

Keeping this type of compelling design in mind, nearly every aspect of a brand’s packaging must be determined by the brand’s overall identity. The game-changers in the field of retail consumer packaged goods design are those who know how to sufficiently intertwine the presentation of how the package and product should appear to the eligible consumer. Think about this example from Silicon Valley: Apple has practically made unboxing a new iPhone an art form, likely because of the sleek, minimalistic packaging – no pesky plastic to break apart or cardboard to cut – and this is reflective of the iPhone’s sleek design and uncomplicated interface. It’s just so much fun opening that clean, white box with the expectation of what awaits. While it may not be your first iPhone, the attention to detail and extent to which the package becomes a part of the buyer’s brand experience is undeniable. And while enjoying the sheer bliss of unwrapping my iPhone 6 Plus earlier this year, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that I’ve been a long-time customer of the Apple brand, and the experience – as matched appropriately with the functionality and capabilities of the mobile device – keep me coming back for a newer model year-over-year.

While possessing some degree of retail consumer packaged goods design differentiation undoubtedly has its benefits, attaining the iconic status in packaging that retailers Apple and Tiffany & Co. have mastered, and as mentioned in our previous blog, doesn’t happen simply by chance. [quote]Achieving such branding perfection begins in large part with the presence of strong brand identity, a dose or two of creativity – and immense knowledge of your ideal consumers’ expectations. (And capitalizing on those expectations.) At BIGEYE, we’ve compiled three key tips to consider when developing your own captivating retail consumer packaged goods design concepts, in an effort to ensure that each has the potential to resonate with your target audience on an iconic level:

1. Know your audience. What issues does your ideal client complain about most when it comes your product type? What aspects do they praise? When seeking to create sleek, beautiful, or practical packaging, the responses to these simple questions are a thought-provoking launching point. For example, it’s absolutely crucial for make-up companies, to listen to women’s reviews on products – especially on packaging. Studies prove that women are almost overwhelmingly turned off by the lack of a pump on a foundation bottle, regardless of the product’s quality; while in other instances, women have reportedly – and more often than not – impulsively purchased expensive lipstick simply because the tube was gilded and gorgeous – with an often prominent logo. Listening to what your consumers both need and want from retail consumer packaged goods packaging design can honestly make or break a perfectly great product – even if the vibrant shade of said lipstick is undeniably perfect for the season. Madame Coco Chanel, I’m talkin’ to you.

2. Give experiential packaging a try. While not conceivable for all products, the consumer’s experience with a product’s packaging doesn’t have to come to an abrupt end when the item has been successfully taken out of the box. HBO’s dark-humored drama, Six Feet Under, released a beautifully designed “complete series” box set a few years back that corresponds with the show’s somewhat grim subject. A tad tongue-in-cheek, the top of the boxed set features fake grass and a grave marker, displaying the name of the series and the date it began and ended, while the sides of the box resemble dirt. Taking it one step further, the box containing the series’ DVDs stands at 6 inches tall. Equally creepy and stunning, the smart design correlates with the show itself (and doubles as outstanding Halloween decor).

Take a look at how BIGEYE took an established coffee chain, Barnie’s Coffee, and modernized their packaged goods design. 

3. Explore the benefits of going green. Research proves that it’s often worth it to ensure that your brand is perceived as “earth-friendly.” Nielsen’s 2015 Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility shows that 66% of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. What does this mean for your brand? It’s simple: packaging a product in recyclable, reusable, or sustainable container is a consistent reason for consumers to choose your product over a competitor’s. For this reason alone, socially conscious initiatives are not only beneficial to Mother Nature, but might also prove lucrative to your bottom line. And admit it, that’s a real win-win.

Truth be told, whether a brand’s retail consumer packaged goods design lends itself more on the side of quirky over stunning, or simplistic over creative, its popularity in a competitive buyer’s market truly boils down to a unique selling proposition. Your brand must communicate its product and benefits in a manner that is equal parts functional, entertaining, and enthralling. Apple watch, I can’t wait to see what your packaging holds in store.

If you’re looking for ways to unleash the power of your brand’s identity though innovative retail consumer packaged goods design, contact us today! We’re poised to provide the necessary expertise to conceptualize a myriad of new and innovative solutions to ensure that your product is this season’s (and all of those that follow’s) must-have.

Iconography and retail consumer goods package design

Ever taken a moment to really think about the goods and service we use everyday? How about the retail consumer goods package design of the products we embrace most frequently? If you haven’t guessed it, we are a highly visual and emotional species. It’s a hugely interesting exercise to contemplate why we’re driven to make certain purchases, and to have preferences and leanings toward specific brands. Well, the choices we make are due in large part to the look and feel – the tangible presentation elements – of our favorite products, and the emotions they evoke within us as consumers.

[quote]Our product-buying decisions, and a significant portion of that emotional response, come from the invaluable  art and science of effective retail consumer goods package design.[/quote]

Our product-buying decisions, and a significant portion of that emotional response, come from the invaluable  art and science of effective retail consumer goods package design. Here at BIGEYE, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the most iconic, recognizable retail consumer goods packaging, and what makes each so highly memorable – and hugely popular – among the buying public.

Tiffany & Co

Typically, sales packaging like a box holding a new necklace wouldn’t garner much attention. I, for one, usually rip open a package without any hesitation (or ladylike grace) if I’m expecting some glittery, golden goodies. However, it doesn’t take a novice to note that Tiffany’s robin egg blue box is almost as valuable as the jewelry it contains. The coveted box, wrapped up in a luxe satin ribbon, has inspired wedding decorations, cakes, and centerpieces – the company even has it’s own blue box charm that sells for $250. In fact, empty boxes have even been known to be hot commodities on eBay and Etsy. The distinct color, some say, was chosen because turquoise was a popular jewelry color at the time, although no one is entirely certain of its iconography. In any case, the robin’s egg color (also known as No. 1837, representing the year the company was founded) is instantly identified with Tiffany’s; while the box still says Tiffany & Co., it certainly doesn’t need to. And for those of us who obsess over the origin of specific colors from a design aesthetic, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of The Pantone Color Institute, says, “It evokes positive thoughts and reactions, and this, combined with the status that Tiffany has assigned to it, makes for perfect packaging.” Our inner-gemologists would tend to agree.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s. Mickey D’s. Nothing seems to instill excitement in a child at dinnertime quite like a McDonald’s Happy Meal box. Perhaps it was because my brother and I were only treated to those tasty chicken nuggets and fries on special occasions (like getting good grades, or when our mother just really didn’t want to bother with dinner), but that feeling of pure joy experienced whilst waiting in the drive-thru line is something that continues to resonate with me today. And the anticipation of knowing there is a prize waiting inside that red and yellow box? That was only half the fun. While the images on the box may change, and the promotional campaigns surrounding the tasty alternatives to mom’s cooking have evolved over time, the feeling it elicits in a child still remains. At BIGEYE, we’re still lovin’ the effective use of retail consumer goods package design for our beloved burger and fries.

[quote]Take a look at how BIGEYE took an established coffee chain, Barnie’s Coffee, and modernized their packaged goods design.  [/quote]

Amazon Box

No time for a trip to the mall? Thanks to the juggernaut that is the online shopping phenomenon, our lives have become ever-influenced by the ease and simplicity of making purchases via the wonders of the Internet. As an adult, that same sense of excitement I felt when getting a McDonald’s Happy Meal is now provoked by seeing that distinctive package on my porch. While the price point of my online treasure is surely much higher than a value meal, that doesn’t prevent me from feeling the sheer thrill and delight I experience upon seeing my order arrive on my doorstep. There’s just something different about the Amazon box—and I think others can agree. In fact, the simple cardboard box with the Amazon logo is raved about so enthusiastically on Twitter, you’d think it was the online equivalent of the Tiffany box. Ponder for a moment about how that simple arrow on the side of a basic cardboard package makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside – and how easily you can return to your computer to make it happen all over again with the few simple clicks of your mouse. Sheer bliss, indeed.

Chanel No. 5

I’m not certain what people are more interested in when purchasing Chanel No. 5: the perfume, or the bottle. The sleek curved glass, single white label, and black sans serif type is modern class at its most exquisite. Beloved for generations, the design is sophisticated, timeless, and has even sparked Chanel to design a plexi-glass clutch version of the iconic bottle. Who wouldn’t want to take a little of Madame Coco – and all her finery – with them as a compliment to their favorite ensemble? Santa, are you listening? I know it’s early, but clearly, the list above covers all my “wish list” items accordingly.

Based upon the examples above alone – and there are so many we’ve left off our list – it’s fairly safe to say that the the power of packaging is far more important than just practical design, although that is certainly necessary, as well. The design needs to speak to the brand advocate’s needs and emotions equally, and directly, in the effective promotion of a product to really illicit the appropriate reaction, and to positively impact buyer behavior. The end result: brand elements that fully support your overarching objectives, and perhaps even attain that iconic status we marketers revere.

Looking for award-winning retail consumer goods package design strategies for your product that will resonate with your target audience? Contact us today to get the conversation started!

The science of retail visual merchandising and consumer behavior

Consumer spending habits – what truly drives behavior? We’re not talking about simply coercing prospective shoppers into your store, we all know (as does your bottom line) that at the end of the day, it involves so much more than the simple volume of foot traffic. Truth be told, we ALL want to compel consumers to actually transact business, which comes down to exploring the science behind those all-important strategies and proven effective retail visual merchandising techniques that will generate an uptick in sales. Here’s the million dollar mystery: how do we captivate customers and capture their attention in a fast-paced, competitive retail landscape? At BIGEYE, a retail visual merchandising agency, our goal is to transform businesses by helping them better understand these buyer behaviors and purchasing decisions –  and to design messages that reach, resonate, and compel customers to take action. This could be why I have more throw pillows than I’ll ever need – honestly, one more accent blanket and my living room could look just like the Pottery Barn display. Gets me every time.
[quote]Oftentimes, when playing “psychologist” and conducting focus groups and other exploratory research, we uncover a disconnect between a brand’s ideal essence, and the in-store presence that is being communicated via visual merchandising displays – unbeknownst to the client. [/quote] When engaging with a skilled retail visual merchandising agency, our approach starts with a gap analysis to determine a company’s strengths and weaknesses inherent in its existing retail strategy. This process affords us with the opportunity to make changes that have a lasting impact on a potential customer’s decisions to purchase specific products, drilling down by factors such as color preference, price point, and a number of other characteristics. While this gap analysis serves as the initial brand “discovery,” it always leads us to the identification of  areas of improvement and easy, high-impact wins (talk about two birds, one stone!). Taking this information, we then work with our clients to redefine their retail strategy. In some cases, this may mean updating the business’s brand strategy, or even embarking upon an overall rebranding process.

Then, we look to actual retail visual merchandising services, and identify tactics we can use in order to drive success. Here’s one way to break down our approach: identifying tangible and intangible techniques that we may use to better implement and stimulate customer interest in the specific products being sold.

With tangible techniques, we’re focused on how customers are influenced by aspects such as window displays, brands, signage, sight-lines and other clear, visible aspects of the design – elements that as a retail visual merchandising agency – we’re able to control. The intended results of our efforts include altering these techniques, and making ongoing revisions to continue to both compel, and to draw in more customers. I’m an uber-savvy consumer, too, and as a result of a number of these strategies being implemented in-store, I find that one minute I’m just looking, and next thing I know, the sales associates are offering to help me carry my overfilled shopping bags. It’s okay to admit it – you know you’ve been there, too, right? Proof positive that using tangible techniques simply works, albeit when implemented correctly, of course. For the tangible, we emphasize those tactile aspects of building displays that will capture our customers’ attention.

To highlight the winter campaign for London-based men’s clothier, Ben Sherman, images of London at night were used as large format backdrops in the store’s windows, featuring twinkling LED lights, capturing the Christmas spirit in a dreamy and luxurious way. Additionally, Hostem, another London clothing store featuring progressive Japanese brands, accentuates their avante-garde fashion through the use of visual merchandising. The impressive (and award-winning) displays are always unique, yet fitting to their aesthetic; using items like vintage church pews, ladders, old beer kegs and cases – even a Chesterfield sofa from the 19th century. It is this use of visual merchandising that truly allows shoppers to experience complete immersion of the brand when walking through the store.

On the other hand, when it comes to intangible techniques, we’re looking into the deeper psychology of how people react to certain stimuli – all of which are impossible to touch. For instance, we may look at customer influence via the senses (sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing), reactions to combinations of color and light to create visual effects, and the use of furniture to create social familiarization. For instance, many stores employ specific scents, think warm cookies fresh out of the oven – all in an effort to elicit a sensual consumer response, where shoppers are “hungry” to spend more. In addition, offering samples of products – food, perfume, or even makeup – may entice a customer to purchase the specific goods and products being promoted. Through the exploration of intangible techniques, we take a more theoretical approach to consumer behavior, based upon plenty of inferences, and supported by detailed, qualitative data. This is why I’ve yet to enter a Target and leave with only the items I planned to purchase – see, once again, the power of psychology is at play.

The benefits of partnering with a retail visual merchandising agency are tenfold, and through our exploratory research and based upon client implementation and testing, we’ve uncovered that both of these types of tactics have the potential to have significant positive impact on your bottom line. In research done by IJESIT on the effect of visual merchandising, 85% of the study’s participants agreed that color, lighting, ambience and attractive visuals (and we mustn’t forget welcoming scents, as in the prior home-baked cookie example) make them spend more time in store. In applying both tangible and intangible tactics, we are able to create cohesive retail displays that generate an emotional association with a brand’s target customers. Be it the individuals who prefer the heavy discounting of “sale” goods, or the power of a stunning display that seemingly – and rather inexplicably –  compels a person to buy, BIGEYE‘s skilled team members understand each company’s need to master such practices in order to ensure that shoppers are drawn into a store, and that they remain interested in its inventory throughout the customer experience.

Finally, we take our learnings and incorporate them into a business’ media mix, identifying ways to create brand alignment in all channels, including both interactive and traditional media. The goal of this portion of the process is to retain customers and encourage them to become brand advocates, serving as active members of our brands’ communities.

If you’re in search of a customer-centric retail visual merchandising agency that possesses the know-how to drive success for your brand, contact BIGEYE for a consultation at 407.839.8599, and discover how we can assist in taking your company – and your products and service offerings – to the next level!

Creating effective retail visual merchandising displays

When it comes to retail strategy, the companies that are, indeed, “getting it right” understand the importance of effective retail visual merchandising displays. These are the oft-admired businesses that attract attention by partnering with merchandisers, designers and artists to conceptualize immaculate displays that garner attention – even from far away. Think of it this way: with a penchant for specific brands, and if given the option, most consumers would typically choose to work remotely from their local Starbucks location, versus setting-up shop inside a Dunkin’ Donuts. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a fairly simple concept when you think about it. Starbucks stores have a connotation with the promotion of calm productivity; from the artwork hanging above the tables, to the light strumming of latte-friendly background music, the coffee retailer upholds its vision through and through. In contrast, the “America runs on Dunkin’” brand, (while also incredibly strong), caters to the on-the-go coffee drinker, and it’s fairly apparent in the brand’s visual merchandising, as well. Although these two companies center a majority of their promotional efforts around coffee shop marketing, and despite having a hugely similar product, the associated consumer messaging is starkly different for each brand. As a result, both have proven, successful approaches – appealing to their respective target consumer for pretty obvious reasons: speed and convenience, or relaxation and comfort.
That certainly doesn’t dilute the value of a caramel-drizzled cup o’ joe, now, does it?

So, what’s the “secret ingredient” to retail visual merchandising success? While there really is no secret formula to ensure that a brand’s message will effectively resonate with the wallet-toting, Frappucino®-loving consumer, one of the most critical – and often most powerful – elements when delivering messages via in-store channels is to ensure that displays contain two critical elements. They must be both aspirational, while also maintaining a company’s ability to deliver on its brand promise. In other words, the customer must feel as though the brand’s commitment is being fulfilled – be it a steadfast promise to adhere to service quality standards, the caliber of the ambiance of a store’s location, or to product innovation. When she purchases from your company, she must feel as though your retail strategy falls closely in line with the overarching brand strategy. Interestingly, this is why companies like Hollister go for the “California cool” approach by enlisting the use of surfboard displays and Yellowcard on their music playlist. On the flip side, and completely on-brand, the backlit displays in Chanel stores elicit a certain degree of elegance and posh. Ideally, these messages will subliminally permeate throughout the brand’s media mix, initiating a comprehensive customer experience that begins with the consumer’s initial impression, and maintains the same – or heightened – levels of engagement throughout the customer journey, and the comprehensive sales funnel.

At BIGEYE, one of the greatest cross-industry challenges we see companies encounter is in crafting enticing, attractive, and compelling retail visual merchandising displays. While some brands have been known to pay lip service to the perceived potential impact that robust merchandising has on a customer’s decision to purchase, we know all-too-well that conceptualizing designs without actually taking the necessary steps to execute them properly is a futile effort. Here’s the proof in your perfectly prepared Peppermint Mocha: psychology studies have shown that impulse buying ultimately comes down to seeing a given product. Companies may actually be able to coax customers into making certain product purchase decisions based upon product displays, assembled in a manner that elicits a “can’t pass by without directing at least some degree of focus on a product” mindset. Remember the time you purchased that candy bar you didn’t need while waiting in the Trader Joe’s checkout line? How about picking up yet another coffee tumbler from the aforementioned Starbucks location you frequent? Well, you can thank science for that! In fact, Lars Perner, Ph. D and Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing at the University of California Riverside’s Marshall School of Business, believes that the more visible the product is, the more likely it is that people will, indeed, purchase it. This, of course, is all provided that the consumer is aware of the product, and its intended purpose. (Sadly, I’m all too familiar with the consequences of that pesky candy bar on a girl’s waistline, and yet, I’ll purchase it anyway. Sigh.)

[quote]Through extensive market research, we’ve seen the proven impact that the effective arrangement of a display has on consumer behavior, with the primary approach always focused around the development of a poignant theme. [/quote] Developing a dynamic proposition opens up the doors to possibility in terms of visual storytelling. Too many times, we see brands crafting displays in an effort to find as many common connections as possible, all the while, thinking this will result in an increase in product sales. Ironically, too much clutter or disorganization within the theme can cause confusion, and may actually dissuade potential customers from entering a store. Maintaining this focus on the central theme is crucial when constructing a display’s design.

In New York, where companies spend millions of dollars on interactive retail visual merchandising displays during the holidays, shoppers line the streets of Fifth Avenue specifically to see the winter window displays. Light shows, music, and interactive yuletide imagery entices chilly (albeit exuberant) shoppers to enter these stores to engage with the brand – and hopefully, to spend large sums of money as they purchase gifts for friends and family. These companies have deduced that they have the distinct opportunity to sell more product, simply by showcasing items in a big and bold manner, as opposed to blending into the visual scene scape. It’s driven by an individual’s inherent attraction to this novelty, as people are impressed and excited by things they haven’t seen or experienced before.

Color also has significant visual impact on purchasing behavior, so we mustn’t forget that fact. It might seem silly, however using starkly contrasting colors does, in fact, cause an instinctive reaction – likened to the primal sense of emotional arousal that our ancestors would have experienced when seeing a tiger – can you believe that one? Attribute this with the notion that certain colors also have the potential to trigger various conscious and unconscious emotional states, and designers can actually create color combinations that will attract and divert attention to these products. For instance, red is the most commonly used color in restaurant visual marketing, as it stimulates excitement and even appetite; the second is yellow, which invokes feeling of joy and optimism (are you craving a Big Mac right now, too?) But if the brand promotes health-consciousness and well being, most often the color of choice is green—think Whole Foods and, (dare I mention them again), Starbucks. The influence that color has is much stronger than most of us consciously realize; and by selecting the perfect color combination, your brand can have a very persuasive impact – likely without the consumer having any awareness.

So, when you’re considering strategies that may really make a substantive difference between a second-rate display and a insanely powerful one, hopefully, you’ve now sufficiently consumed a little retail merchandising food for thought. We’ve uncovered some pretty powerful analytics regarding trends and concepts that make in-store shopping so appealing, and if you’d like to learn how to increase your business’ revenue, paired with a positive impact on purchasing decisions based upon best practices for visual merchandising in retail, contact the BIGEYE team today to get started!