Successful Retailing Demands Creativity

A Season (or 13) for Shopping (Wall Street Journal)

Creative RetailingMarketers are by nature creative people.  They have to be in order to keep up with changing customer preferences and highly competitive markets.  And some of the most creative marketers can be found in the retail industry.

Retailing has struggled in the last few years due to a slow economy, heavy competition, and value-conscious shoppers.  These factors have hit the retail industry hard resulting in many closing up shop.  As noted in a previous post, the list of recently failed retailers is extensive and includes such well-known brands as Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City, KB Toys and many more.

So to survive in a tough market, retailers are continually looking for new ways to excite their shoppers.  Of course, adding new products is one way to attract consumers’ attention.  But another intriguing way retailers excite customers is by changing the look-and-feel of their stores on a regular basis.

As pointed out in this story, the most frequent changes retailers make to their stores are associated with a “theme” approach to selling products.  With this approach, a retailer’s special promotion is closely integrated with store layout and reflects a specific theme.  Examples of retail themes include Target’s Storage and Organization, which runs in January to address consumers’ New Year resolutions to be more organized; Sam’s Club Fall Gatherings, which features yard work products such as tools and outdoor clothing; and Back to School promotions which nearly all retailers offer.

For retailers, the key reason for the theme approach is to encourage more impulse purchasing since store displays and different layouts seem to draw greater customer interest.  To help with the special displays, product manufacturers may work with retailers to create new package designs that will fit with a store’s theme.  Additionally, this story discusses how retailers use marketing research methods to test their concepts.  Among the methods are private “lab” stores, where consumer shopping behavior is monitored to see how store layout is likely to stimulate purchasing.

The true art of the seasonal display is to trick out products that don’t seem like obvious impulse buys—like vacuum cleaners or tissue boxes—in a way that makes shoppers grab first and think later. People are usually willing to spend more during special seasons, retailers and manufacturers say, especially if they are spending on their children.

What are some of the creative decisions that go into developing a theme retailing plan?

Image by JyoNah

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