The complex relationship between consumer behavior and visual merchandising has become a perennial topic for marketing researchers. Different factors—like color psychology, emerging digital trends, and emotional design—can all play a part in the shopping experience.
For retailers who don’t have time to wade through deep databases of research, it’s helpful to consider the broader trends. Here are some key ways that visuals can affect consumers' shopping experiences.
Product and branding colors matter to customers
We know that color psychology is not a perfect science. Shades of bright blue or crimson red will not evoke the exact same reaction in two different people because of differences in culture, context, past experiences, and personal preferences. However, colors do influence customer perception of products and brands, especially when it comes to first impressions. Shoppers can make snap judgments about a product in only 90 seconds, and 90% of them will base this perception purely on color.
Tesla makes it easy for customers to visualize car purchases with digital displays in-stores and an interactive design studio on their website. Using these tools, customers can select paint and interior colors, alongside other options like roof and wheel types, and see the result on screen.
Don't want to be limited by the connotations of certain colors? Consider using visual merchandising technologies such as Endless Aisle to allow customers to visualize products in different colors even if your display room only has space for one model at a time.
Impulse shopping is largely driven by visual influencers
At a very basic level, the best way to get someone to buy your product is to make sure that they see it—especially when it comes to impulse purchases. Shoppers are more likely to make an impulse buy if they can see the item easily from the aisle. Displays need to be eye-catching, and at eye-level, to have the most impact.
Sephora capitalizes on this trend with interactive digital displays situated around the shop and by the checkout line. Customers who are waiting to check out or for help from a make-up artist can browse through nearly 14,000 items—and with additional products stocked by the checkout, there's a good chance these displays will encourage a last minute lipstick purchase or two.
Digital merchandising tactics can help get consumers' attention. Digital signage, for example, can be placed at eye-level throughout stores to promote products with customizable ads. With smart scheduling on digital signage, you can ensure that your displays align with peak traffic times or different promotions throughout the day.
Visual aesthetics can appeal to customers' emotions
While impulse purchases are typically inexpensive items bought without much forethought, luxury items can be the result of a more emotional decision-making process. This kind of emotional connection is essential for brands that rely heavily on aesthetics to sell their products.
Fashion retailer Herschel Supply Co. is a great example of a company that uses carefully curated visuals to sell their iconic bags. Herschel's Instagram account is carefully designed to express a particular aesthetic and encourage customer engagement through specific hashtags such as #WellTravelled and #CityLimitless. The brand's founders, Lyndon and Jamie Cormack put equal effort into curating real life aesthetics for trade show displays.
By creating a cohesive experience of products across online and offline channels, brands such as Herschel are able to better appeal to customers' emotions—in this case, a sense of adventure and wanderlust—while building up brand trust and reliability.
The shopping experience is, at its core, highly influenced by visual factors. The way products are displayed heavily influences how consumers react and ultimately make purchases. With the careful use of new technologies, retailers can use implement strategic visual merchandising practices that improve the shopping experience and drive higher sales.
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