PCA integrates key visual merchandising principles into our design processes for packaging and displays to help our customers attract, engage and convert shoppers. It seems relatively simple in theory — make things look good, and shoppers will notice. In truth, there’s a lot of research, testing, even neuroscience that goes into making in-store marketing efforts appeal to shoppers.
To pull back the curtain on some of that work — eye tracking, sentiment analysis, customer interviews — and give brands the tools they need to make their best packaging and displays, we teamed up with Dr. Michelle Adams, founder and president of Marketing Brainology. We shared the latest neuromarketing research and merchandising principles with attendees at Snaxpo, one of the largest snack food conferences in the U.S.
For those who weren’t able to attend the event, here are five key principles to keep in mind when designing in-store packaging, displays and signage.
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When considering merchandising principles and practices, it’s helpful to think of the actions you want people to take. In the case of a retail visual merchandiser, here are some desired outcomes:
Our five merchandising principles work toward these goals. They’re designed to help you attract shoppers and then engage them enough to convert those shoppers to customers.
Shoppers need to connect to something relevant. Images that showcase how a product can be used and that feature people who look like them engage and activate consumers’ brains. If the product is for children or families, feature kids on your display. If you know your target buyer, make sure they’re represented on the packaging. Ultimately, you want to make it easier for people to see themselves using your product.
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If you want to understand how to be a successful visual merchandiser, you have to understand how to make the most of the few seconds you’ll get of retail shoppers’ time. Simplifying displays, messaging and planograms can quickly make it clear what you’re selling and why someone needs it. Keeping things orderly, neat and clean while highlighting the product’s best features is an effective merchandising principle for attracting and educating new shoppers.
You also want to create room for their eyes to settle. Supermarkets and shopping centers can be visually chaotic. “Breathing room” around text, imagery and your display will make your product and message stand out.
Using the right colors will attract the eyes of shoppers and deliver emotional connectivity. Certain colors and combinations trigger specific emotions, putting shoppers in the mood to buy. Think about how your product makes people feel, what it tastes like and any other attribute you can represent with color.
Avoid going overboard, however. Too many colors can make your display or packaging overwhelming. And you want to make sure the visuals don’t distract from the main goal — boosting the visibility of the product.
In the same way color can trigger emotions, familiar contexts can trigger emotions. By using elements that shoppers may recognize, you can gain their attention and engage their curiosity. That recall can be powerful, delivering a sense of surprise and delight that may get associated with your product.
All of this attention and attraction means nothing if you don’t get people to buy. Retail merchandising principles should be geared toward one thing: conversion. The four elements above must work together to support the call to action on your display.
The more direct and personal you can make your appeal to shoppers, the more likely you are to be successful. Tell them what they’re getting and how they can use it. Keep your images on the left and text on the right so they can quickly skim the display for information. And if there’s a special reason to buy your product, mention it. Sustainability, for example, can add to the sense of urgency, encouraging a shopper to purchase.
The goal of these visual merchandising principles is to help your product sell itself. It’s a way to effectively appeal to consumers by tapping into the subconscious cues they don’t know they’re following. The right visual merchandising improves the chance of making a sale and hopefully of creating a repeat customer.