Merchandising Know-How: Displays and demographics

In the current political landscape, the word "change" is used incessantly. It seems everyone is looking for change or, at least, mentioning it. Not to be outdone, here's a change for you. There's a new retail movement afoot to arrange and position displays that appeal to certain demographics at certain times of the day.

In the current political landscape, the word "change" is used incessantly. It seems everyone is looking for change or, at least, mentioning it. Not to be outdone, here's a change for you. There's a new retail movement afoot to arrange and position displays that appeal to certain demographics at certain times of the day.

It's an interesting idea and works like this: A store identifies its customers by age, interests and shopping preferences. It can be anecdotal, but it's a big help if you take some time to observe customer behaviors, product preferences and demographics in your store.

Once the research is complete, create product displays targeted for specific customer groups at various times of the day. For instance, stay-at-home moms and seniors, not bogged down with 9-to-5 jobs, may prefer to shop in the morning. If you've noticed this trend in your store, then display merchandise that would interest them in visible and easily reached areas of the store. Baby carriers and children's clothing spring to mind as perfect items to place up front in the morning.

Around noon, it stands to reason that customers coming in are on their lunch break, and displayed merchandise should be changed accordingly. These customers like to browse and see what's new. Recent arrivals, tech gadgets and books come to mind as perfect up-front items. If the weather has suddenly turned cold and wet, adult fleece and rainwear could be displayed to capture customers' attention and guide them to the apparel section elsewhere in the store.

In the afternoon, the customer base may be a mix of people of all ages and persuasions who have time on their hands to browse but may also be looking for specific items. This more eclectic group, which will probably include the after-school crowd, will have broader interests, so it may take time to figure out what items they are drawn to most. But whatever seems popular with these people belongs in highly visible spaces as they enter the store.

Around closing, the "hurry uppers" descend wanting fast service, easy shopping and quick checkout. This is a good time for staff to be on their toes and provide the most help. Monitor what items these last-minute shoppers tend to gravitate to and place those items up front.

Think of the shop as a revolving door with a whole new set of customers arriving throughout the day with a whole new set of needs and wants. Identify the areas in the store in which displays can be created and placed that will appeal to different customers at different times of the shopping day. Use tables, freestanding displays, signage, videos and fixturing to show preferred products, and be sure to keep displays simple to make changing them easy. It's all a matter of timing, finding new ways to maximize profitability and a willingness to adopt change.

Sharon Leicham is the creator of The MerchandisingHUB, the author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and "How to Sell to Women" and is a regular columnist for SNEWS® writing on merchandising and marketing topics. You can access all of her columns by going to, where you will find tons of information targeted at the needs of the independent specialty retailer. You can email us with questions and comments at

For more retail training support and know-how, be sure to check out the SNEWS® Business 101 tools and stories, including our 10-part Retail Merchandising Training series produced by SNEWS®, including a useful online calculator for performing the most common retail merchandising calculations -- free to All Access Subscribers.


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