Merchandising Tour: Setting the story scene

Wall fixtures, props, mannequins, signage and product packaging are more than a mere backdrop to fantastic merchandise in any retail market. SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright Each of these items should reflect brand messaging, or one risks a confusing consumer experience. Think of choosing fixtures as setting a scene in a play.
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Wall fixtures, props, mannequins, signage and product packaging are more than a mere backdrop to fantastic merchandise in any retail market. Each of these items should reflect brand messaging, or one risks a confusing consumer experience. Think of choosing fixtures as setting a scene in a play.

Backstage are fixture designers and manufacturers like Lewisville, Texas-based Chippenhook, that work closely with companies to house branded merchandise in fixturing that reflects the brand’s unique style and product. The competition for attention is tough, and a prop or fixture without a strong link to product personality just doesn’t sell as well as one that does. Imagine the story disconnect, for example, of a brand known for its sustainable messaging placing its product on a chrome fixture or wrapping it in plastic.

The process at Chippenhook, whose client list includes Maui Jim, Spy Optics, Wurkin Stiffs and Tiffany & Co., takes into consideration not just the “what” — i.e. materials, number of units, function at retail and cost — but more importantly, the “who.” Companies with strong identities will have fewer misses in fixture or package design. One of the coolest things to come from the design experience can, in fact, be the opportunity to dial into that detail. Regardless of market, such knowledge and appreciation of personality makes the design process more fun and on point.

Consider Horny Toad’s unique ethos, which reflects the spirit shared by the entire Toad Team rather than resulting from a corporate product message pushed to employees, according to Marketing Manager Blair Brown. A recent project had the creative team searching for old and new picture frames, which captured the contemporary aesthetic of the brand, and designing graphics around the frames, spontaneously resulting in a solid Horny Toad message.

Horny Toad’s booth at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market caught our attention with its unique mannequins, which at first glance appeared to be papier mache, but were instead regular body forms with the fiberglass stripped to reveal a more raw form. Horny Toad finds fixtures that fit its brand philosophy at flea markets and antiques stores, and can determine trash versus treasure more quickly than many retailers can fill a four way, thanks to a connected vision and mission.

The value of knowing who you are delivers a creative message that makes sense to the consumer and visual team as well.

Consider Prana’s flagship store in Boulder, Colo., which seamlessly merchandises to its climbing and yoga customers through artistic repurposed wood and steel fixturing shown here from talented Boulder artist Joe Levy.

According to store manager Patti Carr, Levy and Prana are simpatico in the design realm. That shared creative intuition also allows Prana’s visual guru Fawn Talmon, to execute merchandising that naturally pairs with one-of-a kind fixtures with outdoor flair, using simple and natural elements like twigs wrapped in rope, rocks, plants and even Buddha as props. Prana’s outdoor story is so based on nature and roots, that the props (Talmon recommends keeping a back stock of them for inspiration, and to consider repurposing before tossing) and fixtures are a natural brand extension.

Fixturing_Nature_speaks_at_prana.jpg

Retail fixtures provide a powerful platform, and they speak with the most clarity when married to solid brand stories.

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright

is the founder of Merchandising Matters,

www.merchandisingmattersnow.com
,

which provides
visual merchandising and

marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.

Reach her via email at
merchandising@snewsnet.com

with questions, ideas and suggestions.

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