Commerce, ever since the ancient Persian bazaars, has always benefited from the naturally human desire of having something that attracts us. If our eyes are the window to the soul, then window displays are the maximum expression of this facet of human desire – curiosity. Without knowing exactly how far they date back, shop windows have been attracting the attention and stopping passers-by on city pavements from at least the XVI century. Their constant sophistication has led shop-keepers and traders to explore environments and contextualizations of products, instead of simply displaying the articles.
It is intriguing how the reaction of people to window displays that contextualize products within specific scenarios can be either positive or negative, but rarely indifferent or, indeed, neutral. In the era of the Internet, of digital mobility, window displays are being adapted. New materials make the scenarios easier to change, more luminous and interactive. Lights, sounds, cameras and screens project the expectations of shoppers in the window displays and, sometimes, even digitally portray the images of the shoppers themselves. In certain cases it is even difficult to comprehend exactly where the window display finishes and the store actually starts, a trick employed to attract the more engaged customer into the store. Creativity has no limits when it comes to technology, making it increasingly difficult to compete for the attention of shoppers on the pavements and in the shopping malls of the world.
In the field of shopper marketing, window displays have the role of:
a) attracting attention toward the store (by means of visual contrasts, such as light and color);
b) to stop the shopper – “stopping power”;
c) connect to the message of store – and to the products it sells – with the set of expectations of whoever is looking, i.e. ‘engage’ the shopper, raising the chance of him or her entering the store.
As a trend, therefore, we are seeing window displays and environmentations become frequent, even in the self-service area. And if it were possible to describe the vectors of development in window displays as part of the promotional Marketing package, I would risk saying there are two. Firstly, the selectivity of the message transmitted by the shop window and; secondly, the sense of communication – unidirectional or bi-directional.
To facilitate the creation of “looks”, on the web, the exhibition of products is made within the context in which intriguing environments make up the message of the shop and its target public. The site/community/store www.polyvore.com is an example of this. The display of products is made by means of “looks”, created by users themselves. What could be more selective than that?! Other websites, such as www.amazon.com, group products of greater interest according to the particular profile of whoever is accessing the site, creating a customized selection for each access. Obviously, this would be impossible in the physical environment. The window displays tend to become more and more selective. Abercrombie & Fitch (apparel) is a typical case of environmentation, pleasing some, while displeasing (even irritating) others. The store in Nova York is an example of a display in which the shop window and even the showroom dummies blend with real people and spaces inside the shop
Without doubt, displaying products is more a question of art than technology. However, when the two are combined, the result can be truly fantastic. Interactive displays such as those of the Disney store are becoming more and more frequent, attracting children and adults alike into a world of fantasy, created by computer graphics. Even in self-service, where these is almost no interaction from attendants, the area has already taken on bidirectional communication. Many self-service points are installing interactive screens to attract and orient customers.
What will the next step be? I would go as far as saying that the phenomenon www.foursquare.com and other forms of customer recognition that have entered retail establishments will have the tendency to change the manner of displaying products and communicating the character of the store. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, the fantasy of the film “Minority Report” (starring Tom Cruise, 2001) will become a reality. Nevertheless, it is likely that the cellular phone/GPS will be the key to identifying the loyal customers of the store. In this context, electronic window displays will change environment and message according to the person that is passing in the street, maintaining just the product in common between one transaction and another. Now wouldn’t that be the maximum in client customization! It just remains to be seen whether the attendant inside the store will manage to keep up in “time” with all these changes.
The Whole Foods, Chicago/EUA – Fruit display –enough appeal to lever sales . Photo by the author.
D & G: just communicating their collection with floral themes. Photo by the author
London, 2011: provocation at Piccadilly Circus. Photo by the author.
Volpi: Consecrated formula in the movement to get attention. Photo courtesy of www.designdivino.com.br
Jimmy Choo (UK): message directed to a selected audience. Photo by the author.
“Barbie Fashion Show”, NY / USA – 2008. From the book: Trade Marketing, Ed Atlas 2010. Photo by the author.
Milan furniture fair 2011: everything in this showcase is high quality printing on paper (poster), except the chair, the carpet and the floor plate. Very little work to assemble. Photo courtesy of www.designdivino.com.br
Lego Store: Rockfeller Center NY/EUA: interactivity – two-way communication. (source youtube, 2010)
Disney – New York – USA: Example of two-way communication with selective shopper, is the Magic Mirror, a kind of electronic showcase that tells the story behind the princess of the goods sold, when the product is placed in front of the glass. (excerpted from “Shopper Marketing, Ed Atlas 2011). Photo by the author.
Originally published at Mundo do Marketing website in 6/14/2011