The Communication of Window Displays

Retailer:Ted BAker Word Count: 1268 The Communication of Window Displays “Visual merchandising is an indispensable retail discipline, consisting of a series of practical selling tools that are used to influence what and how much consumers buy” (McKeever, K. 2008). A window display represents the various dynamics used to communicate a message to its target audience. This essay will analyse the way in which Ted Baker conveys its position in the market and brand identity by effectively portraying quality and attention to detail in its window displays.

This essay will then compare the successfulness of two different approaches – “theme focussed display”, and “product focussed display” – in enticing Ted Baker’s potential customers. This will develop a conclusion on the effectiveness of Ted Baker’s window displays to act as “silent sellers” (Levine, P. 2008) and enable customers to relate to the brand. Ted Baker uses elements such as the psychological effect of colour, lighting and appropriately chosen props to enable its customer to interpret its position in the market as an “upper high street brand”.

Figure 1: Use of luxurious colours by Ted Baker ( Source: Vaswani, 2012 In various online customer reviews (yelp. com, zappos. com), the attributes that Ted Baker’s products are associated with are commitment to quality and unwavering attention to detail. Interviews with 30 onlookers regarding the window displays on Regent Street revealed that the use of luxurious colours (browns, rich reds, strong neons) along with the warm yellow lighting are the factors that enabled the customers to interpret the quality of the products to be superior.

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This proves that there is a deep level of intricacy that has gone into the selection of the props used in the window displays. This supports the upper high street positioning of the brand within the market. All these factors confirm that Ted Baker’s usage of the above elements is effective in conveying its market positioning. A comparison between the effectiveness of a “theme-focused” and “product-focused” display will establish whether Ted Baker’s frequent usage of themes in their windows is the right approach to capture the attention of potential customers.

For their display in October, Ted Baker had ingeniously used the theory of “the survival of the fittest” to create a humorous theme in their window supporting their autumn/winter merchandise. Figure 2: Survival of the fittest themed window Source: displayhunter. com, 2012 Charles Darwin (1869, On the origin of species) explained “survival of the fittest” to be “the natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. ” The message behind the story in the display is that Ted Baker merchandise is the “fittest” and would transcend the wearer from the ordinary.

By labelling their merchandise as the “fittest” and rather a necessity, the brand teasingly talks about how the upcoming autumn winter weather is going to be a struggle. Interpretations of several passers-by confirm that this theme was making a joke about the “Great British weather” and the only way to conquest this struggle was to wear Ted Baker’s merchandise. Figure 3: Christmas with Frosty Source: Vaswani,2012 The most recent window display, the Christmas display, paints a picture of a Christmas party, the guest of honour being a drunken snowman named “Frosty” in a festive red thong and Santa Clause hat.

The visual merchandising team believe that the movement of the snowman captures attention as peoples’ eyes are drawn towards motion. This statement was confirmed by primary research and observation. Out of a sample of 100 people passing by the shop, seven out of ten stopped to look at the window display (A few even took pictures with the snowman in the window) Five out of these seven went into the store. Figure 4: Frosty the snowman Source: Vaswani, 2012 In both these window displays, Ted Baker uses humorous themes to engage its quirky target audience.

The window displays act like “silent sellers” because they successfully convert onlookers into customers by reeling them in. However, in the second week of October, Ted Baker used a more product-focused window to display their collection. The sales assistant at the Regent Street store identified that the merchandise displayed was mainly evening wear that could be worn for occasions like upcoming Christmas parties. The mannequins were placed in repetition, which “reinforces and strengthens the impression through replication” (Gorman,G. 996 Visual Merchandising and store design workbook, p20). Also the background was a mirror, “people tend to slow down when they see reflective surfaces” (Underhill, 2002, Why we buy, p76). The window did have these two strengths but interviews with in-store customers established that the display looked “boring” and “as if very little thought and effort had been put into it”. A customer also quoted, “In comparison to the exciting displays from earlier, this one is a let down”. Figure 5: Ted Baker’s product focused display

Source: Vaswani, 2012 The sales assistant at the Regent Street store identified that the merchandise displayed was mainly evening wear that could be worn for occasions like upcoming Christmas parties. The mannequins were placed in repetition, which “reinforces and strengthens the impression through replication” (Gorman,G. 1996 Visual Merchandising and store design workbook, p20). Also the background was a mirror, “people tend to slow down when they see reflective surfaces” (Underhill, 2002, Why we buy, p76).

The window did have these two strengths but interviews with in-store customers established that the display looked “boring” and “as if very little thought and effort had been put into it”. A customer also quoted, “In comparison to the exciting displays from earlier, this one is a let down”. This means that, the Ted Baker customer expects excitement and an engaging theme in the windows. Also based on the description of the windows by the customers, the reflection of the brand’s personality is key to Ted Baker’s display.

Evidently, a product-focused window display is inept in this aspect. “A stores’ window is effectual if it tempts customers”(Portas, 2007). This statement creates stress on the fact that the window display was ineffectual due to its inability to lure customers. From this comparison, we can conclude that, “theme-focused” window displays are more effective than “product-focused” display as they create visual excitement and help the customer relate to the brand. The Ted Baker customer enjoys the portrayal of the brand’s humorous and quirky image through its engaging and impactful themes.

In conclusion it can be said that, through its window displays, Ted Baker communicates its position of being an upper high street retailer in the market. For this, it uses to its advantage the psychological effect created by colour and lighting and the appropriate usage and selection of props in its window displays. The windows are a true and effectual representation of the brand’s core values which are- quality and attention to detail. Ted Bakers frequent use of “theme-focused” window displays is a powerful and efficient approach to draw in their target customers who expect enthusing displays that would make them engrossed and curious.

Finally, the strategies and approaches that Ted Baker uses in the creation and execution of its window displays are effective “silent sellers”. REFERENCE LIST: Darwin, C (1869). On the origin of species. 5th ed. Gorman, G (1996). Visual Merchandising and store design workbook. Ohio: ST Media Group Publisher. p20. Levine, P. (2010). Visual Merchandising: The ‘Silent Salesperson’. [online] Available: http://www. salesandmarketing. com/article/visual-merchandising-silent-salesperson. Last accessed 25th September 2012 McKeever, K. (2008). favourite quotes. Available: http://thevisualmerchandisingblog. ordpress. com/favorite-quotes/. Last accessed 20th September 2012 Morgan, T (2011). Visual Merchandising: Window and in-store displays for retail. 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publications. p54. Portas, M (2007). favourite quotes. Available: http://thevisualmerchandisingblog. wordpress. com/favorite-quotes/> [online] Last accessed 20th September 2012 Underhill, P (2002). Why we buy. New York: Simon and Schuster. p76. http://www. yelp. com/biz/ted-baker-london-new-york (2012) [online] last accessed 27th September 2012 http://www. zappos. com/ted-baker (2009) [online] last assessed 27th September 2012

REFERENCE LIST FOR IMAGES: Vaswani, D. (2012) Figure 1:Use of luxurious colours by Ted Baker [Photograph]. Regent Street Store Figure 2:Survival of the fittest themed window(2012) [online image]. Available at: http://displayhunter. blogspot. co. uk/2012/11/ted-baker-hunting-game. html [Accessed 23rd November 2012] Vaswani, D. (2012) Figure 3:Christmas with Frosty [Photograph]. Regent Street Store Vaswani, D. (2012) Figure 4:Frosty the Snowman [Photograph]. Regent Street Store Vaswani, D. (2012) Figure 5:Ted Baker’s product focused display [Photograph]. Regent Street Store

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Last accessed 11th October Marie, S. (2006). A History of Visual Merchandising in Retail Stores. Available: http://sarahmarie1. hubpages. com/hub/A-History-of-Visual-Merchandising-in-Retail-Stores. Last accessed 9th October 2012 Messaris, P (1997) Visual Persuasion- The Role of Images London: Sage Publications Sturken, M , Cartwright, L (2000) Practices of Looking- An introduction Oxford: Oxford University Press Sussen Madden Understand visual merchandising for a small business. Available: http://www. retailtraining. ie/pdf/Unit-259. pdf. Last accessed 3rd October 2012

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