familiar with unfamiliar

Get familiar with the unfamiliar and make the customer stop and stare

Written by John Stanley

One of the keys to retailing is getting the consumer to stop and look at your displays. Alas, if you take a walk around most retail displays you will find they are forgettable.

The key is linking the familiar with the unfamiliar. We all know that, but I was reminded of this recently by Bill Bown from Terra in Ontario, Canada when we both presented at a conference.

The key to success is to make people stop and look. If you achieve this you are more likely y to get the customer to buy.
Christmas has now come and gone, but I used the opportunity to look at Christmas retailing with new eyes and to try and identify which retailers were actually putting the familiar with the unfamiliar.

I decided to take the Christmas tree as my example to look at what retailers were doing…

As you would expect most retailers took a tree, decorated it with babbles and created the Christmas spirit in their store. The customer expected to see Christmas trees decorated in stores and most of them I looked at walked past them.

The Tree is the Icon

The smart retailers realised that the Christmas tree was the familiar and they had to add the unfamiliar. If they could achieve that they could stop the customer in their tracks and hopefully make a sale.

My journey started in Prague, Czech. This country was on an emotional high having won the Davis Cup in tennis. One sharp retailer uses the theme of tennis and rather than decorate the tree with babbles they decorated their tree with tennis balls. This sends a message that they were in tune with what customer were proud of and they also wanted to celebrate.

My next stop was Hong Kong and the main shopping plaza. I had a major problem getting to the Christmas trees as I had to fight my way past photographers taking picture of the family in front of the trees. The Christmas trees were made out of balls of wool.

In the USA one entrepreneur created the edible Christmas tree using locally grown fresh foods.

Again, taking the familiar and placing me with the unfamiliar.

A high end fashion shop in the same city hung the Christmas trees in the air and also exposed the roots. How many of us hide the roots so the customer cannot see them. This retailer understands the familiar with the familiar routine.

Paris is recognised as one of the icon places for Christmas shopping and a wonderland at this time of year. Most retailer stook a more traditional view and used babbles to create the shape and theatre for the consumer. This allowed the retailer to c easily create colour fashion statements that compliment the product.

UK Icon Revolves around Food

My next stop on my Christmas tree tour was London. The traditional Christmas tree was to be seen everywhere, but it was the food industry that really developed the idea of using the icon as a shape to dare to be different.

I saw Christmas trees made out of coffee containers, sweets, wine bottles and beer bottles.

I am not sure what this message is saying about the UK consumer…

The real message is to take the familiar and create the unfamiliar. The leaders do it at Christmas ,but they also ensure they have Christmas every month, that is the challenge to the retail industry.