Product merchandizing design

Merchandizing means the process of managing the methods used to push products into the market. It utilizes several methods to make the offerings of a brand attractive to consumers and increase purchase probability, and is therefore a push-marketing medium as it pushes consumers to make purchases. Merchandizing involves selling goods at the point of sale, which in most cases is the physical store. It utilizes visual representation, which is of paramount importance in luxury fashion retailing and is a constituent part of branding.

Effective merchandizing techniques are important in luxury fashion retail especially with the more demanding nature of consumers and the increasing level of competition among luxury brands. The merchandizing techniques and product offerings of luxury brands should be realistic, delightful and relevant to the lives of consumers, since luxury consumers now have multiple product choices and a multitude of fashion trends every season from a growing number of designers. As a result they can compare products and trends and make more informed choices. They also have information and choice overload, which sometimes leads to confusion and conflict. The result of these factors is that consumers are likely to lose trust for brands that have only surface-level offerings. This means that luxury brands need to differentiate themselves through creating desirable products and selling them with effective techniques.

Merchandizing involves product display and layout, pricing and ticketing display, product packaging, point-of-sale advertising, product zoning, traffic-generation techniques, product hot-spots and inventory control.

Product and price-ticketing display is driven by imagination. A large number of luxury brands often fall into the trap of sameness through lack of creativity in product presentation. For example, the product packaging of several luxury brands such as shopping bags and product boxes have a uniform look in style and concept and little differentiating features. Also the point-of-sale product display in the stores of numerous luxury fashion brands is often bland and uninspiring. On the other hand, the point-of-sale could be used as an advertising medium to introduce new products, showcase best sellers or display 'take-away' complementary goods such as small leather goods. However, when customers find these goods unappealingly displayed or encounter employees that show a lack of enthusiasm in promoting these goods, then the target of purchase probability will be lost.

Additional merchandizing techniques include 'Product Zoning', which involves the placement of complementary products side by side; and 'Traffic Generation', which features the positioning of high-demand products towards the centre or rear of the store thereby obliging customers to walk through the store to reach them. For example, leather goods such as bags and shoes are logically placed close to apparel, which are positioned close to other accessories such as belts and scarves. Jewellery and timepieces go together while cosmetics and fragrances complement one another. Eyewear and other high touch-based products are often grouped together. Other merchandizing techniques include 'Product Hot-Spots', which display new products or interactive products like fragrances, cosmetics and promotional goods. These products are usually presented in groups or categories as well as in rankings of importance, demand, relationship or interaction.

Window display is another important consideration in product merchandizing, as both a sales medium and a communicative medium. It is an important brand image projection tool because it addresses the public, which includes luxury consumers, potential luxury consumers and non-luxury consumers.

Window display merchandizing techniques currently require strong differentiation. This is a result of the visible convergence of retailing tactics of luxury brands with those of mass fashion brands, as a result of continuous evolution of the fashion industry. For example, fashion brands that do not advertise in the mass media, such as Zara, use their window displays as a communicative tool and therefore place great emphasis on its design and message. This is similar to luxury department stores such as Macy's or

Luxury Fashion Stores

Harrod's. The result is a greater level of creativity and imagination in window displays among luxury fashion brands, departmental stores and mass fashion brands. This factor has contributed to increased expectations of consumers from luxury brands, which therefore need to show greater creativity and imagination in window displays at all times. For example, there is little difference between the window displays of the two stores, Harrod's and H & M, Knightsbridge, London, shown in Figure 4.7 and 4.8.

Another crucial element of store image projection through merchandizing is the synergy between a store's interior and its exterior in terms of display, design and aesthetics. A store that habitually changes its exterior design motif should also routinely change the interior to maintain a consistent message. An example of a luxury store that has maintained interior and exterior design consistency over its long history is French department store Galeries Lafayette (Figure 4.9). The store often uses a thematic concept both indoors and outdoors to enhance its appeal.

Inside Luxury Department Store
Figure 4.9 Luxury department store, Galeries Lafayette, Paris, maintains consistency between its interior and exterior designs
Champs Elysees Shop Facade
Figure 4.10 Louis Vuitton's creative giant monogram trunk façade covering the renovation work at its Paris Champs Elysées flagship store, 2004

Figure 4.11 Cartier's giant replica of its packaging box, covering the reconstruction work at its Paris Rue de la Paix store, 2005

Figure 4.11 Cartier's giant replica of its packaging box, covering the reconstruction work at its Paris Rue de la Paix store, 2005

Luxury Fashion Store Paris

Finally, the exterior design of a store can also be a creative tool in all circumstances irrespective of condition. For example, during the renovation period of the Cartier and Louis Vuitton flagship stores in Paris, the stores' exteriors were covered with giant-sized reproductions of the brands' products and packaging. This is a creative communications tool that reminds the public of the presence of the brand and also a landmark and in some cases a tourist attraction (Figures 4.10 and 4.11).

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