In May I will graduate from Illinois State University with a bachelors degree in art. This summer I will begin further schooling at the Ray College of Design in Chicago. At Ray College I will work toward achieving an associates degree in visual merchandising. This degree will enable me to get a job in the field I desire. At the Ray College of Design I will work on a portfolio to present to prospective employers after I graduate. I will learn the importance of traffic patterns and correct colorization in specific store departments. Window displays, mannequins, fixtures, and customer safety will be ingrained in my head by the time I graduate. Once I begin a job, however, the emphasis will be on increasing sales. This is an area that interests me. I will need to keep very up to date on sales techniques and trends. I an very interested in one of the new trends; catering to children.
Over the years hundreds of selling tactics have been used in attempts to attract more shoppers and more sales. Women have long been the target of most of the displays. During the past few years other groups have begun to receive more attention from visual merchandisers. Men are one group, and children are another.
I discovered that the yearly kids' market exceeds three billion dollars. Because of this, merchandisers have begun to focus on children. One important reason is because when children are happy and occupied in a store, a parent tends to make greater purchases. Several factors aid in children's sales.
Availability is the most important factor when a child has an idea of what he/she wants. We assume that if we don't see it, the store doesn't have the item. Point of purchase sales work well on children because of their need for instant gratification. Grocery stores sell great quantities of candy and magazines in this fashion.
Obvious things such as props and fixtures can go a long way in making merchandise a "must have" for children. Themes work very well in attracting kid's attention. A huge Batman display with buildings of cubicles and flashing lights will sell more merchandise than the identical items merely placed on a blank shelf. Kids will go to the store with the better display just to get a show. It is more fun to select a Batmobile from Gotham City than from a bare shelf. Items do not have to be all the same type or brand to form a display. The theme of a display may be "beach." Included may be towels, pails, shovels, bathing suits, and snorkel gear.
We all know kids like bright colors and flashing lights. They also love touching things. If a store makes it acceptable, even good, for children to play with the merchandise, the store will be very popular with the child. Stores around the country have recognized this and are using it to their advantage. Video stores sometimes install kid television rooms. In the room kids are invited to sit on miniature furniture and watch cartoons while their parents shop for videos. All the children's videos are in the small room, so they never need to leave the comfortable space. Bookstores such as Kroch's & Brentano's have also been installing kid rooms. Kroch's & Brentano's has a kid's section off the main aisle. This section is decorated with primary colors. Dwarfed tables and chairs invite young readers to sit down and take a look at the books and games offered.
Some stores, such as Toytropolis in Seattle, are completely focused around children's concerns. It is a child's wonderland. The theme of the toy store is cityscape. Departments include a zoo of stuffed animals, a library filled with books and games, and a condominium to house the store's collection of dolls. Everything in Toytropolis is inviting. Children are encouraged to touch and try out the toys. They can sit and play at small desks. Play areas are built into the store. Everything needed to test a toy is available. Electrical outlets are located near the desks so computers and electrical games can be tested before purchasing. It is important to note that everything is in the reach of children and that the store is designed so parents can constantly keep their kids in view. Pleasing both the parents and the children is a necessity.
The bright colors used by the stores catering to children is no accident. Studies have proved that children are drawn to vibrant colors. The active colors appeal to the active young children. Bright colors invoke a mood of fun and a sense of carefree. Small scaled furniture and racks makes the youngster feel important because the child is able to help him/herself. The use of themes in display are fun for children. Themes carry the child away from the mundane everyday and into a land from their imagination. Buildings come alive and trees talk. Some stores even go so far as to add rides. Trains are the most popular. They hold many children at once and are fairly safe since they are not controlled by the children. Stores that do not have actual rides may have movable displays. These displays may include a train running on a track or planes with turning propellers hanging from the ceiling. These are great for very small children because the movement keeps them quiet and occupied. Just about the only sense people do not associate with visual merchandising is the sense of smell.
Smell is beginning to be utilized in stores of all types. With the possible exception of taste, it is the only sense not often called upon to aid store displays. Smell can act as an accent to any store. Smells are powerful tools in recalling memories and feelings. With any age of customer, the more pleasant the atmosphere, the longer they will remain in the store. Scents that are fun appeal to children especially. Popcorn and cotton candy may evoke memories of the movies or of the circus. Playdo may remind the child of fun times. Baby powder is a scent that evokes security. The scent appropriate to the store must be carefully chosen. A toy store that smelled of gasoline would spell certain disaster. It is also important to remember that the scent should only be suggestive, not overpowering.
Children have become great targets for merchandisers. Themes, ability to play with the toys, and appropriate color and possibly scent selection have proven to boost sales from children. The most important tools to use, however, are point of purchase sales and easily accessible merchandise. Displays that grab the child's attention and create excitement encourage them to buy more they intended. The children's market is growing. Because of this, they need to be considered seriously as a target group for merchandising.
I will employ these techniques in my future work. The ideas are important ones for me to remember. My schooling will prepare me for an exciting career in visual merchandising. Hopefully, after a few years of hard work, I will be able to work up to visual merchandising director. In order to reach my goal, I need to remain focused. I must soak up as much information as possible before I begin my first job.
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