A little knowledge of physics and biology probably wouldn’t go amiss when it comes to thinking about how you display and promote products in your store, writes Richard de Melim.
The human eye is attracted or repelled by certain shapes and colours. You don’t need to know how it works, but knowing the natural effects of shape and colour on the eye could help you to improve your retail displays. It's often said that 'eye level is buy level' but if you have tall or short customers it's hard to know where this 'eye level' is. Nevertheless, it's obvious that sight is unquestionably the most important of the senses when it comes to retail.
The term ‘eye catching’ is glibly banded about. However, most people don’t realise there are specific images that do naturally catch the eye of the beholder. IBDs who use these optical occurrences can reap the benefits.
Forget about the products themselves and concern yourself with how you display them. Think imaginary triangles. They are the strongest shape in display because the eye naturally travels to the apex. Make sure that whatever product you are trying to sell the most of is at the apex, and therefore the focal point, of the display. For example, if you use stands or plinths to display something, put the main feature raised in the centre with items accessorising it lower down at either side. The eye will spontaneously travel to the main feature.
It’s probable you use PoS materials in your bike store, such as brochures, and posters on the walls and stickers in the windows. Try to think of the literature and images you use as a page, just like you would see in a newspaper or magazine. It’s worth knowing where the eye travels to first. Divide the page into imaginary quadrants, even if this is something large like your shop window.
If you have an important message to convey, put it in the top left quarter – where the eye goes first because we read from left to right (Arabic and Hebrew speakers read from right to left so bear that in mind if you ever feel inclined to open a second store in the Middle East)!
If you’ve got your audience interested then make the second most important information appear in the top right. The next place people will look is the bottom left and if they actually do look at the bottom right corner it means you’ve done your job well and held their interest. If the top left corner is dull, chances are you’ve lost your opportunity, no matter what information is given elsewhere.
Remember, if the headline marketing message is in the top left corner and it interests the viewer, then there is a strong chance they will go on to look at the rest of the material you have provided for them.
If you are using literature then keep the lines short and in columns as it is easier to read than long lines running all the way across. It’s no co-incidence that your daily morning paper (and your favourite trade magazine) uses words on its pages this way. Another thing to remember is background colour. Avoid high colour contrast, such as blue writing on a red background. Keep it simple, and, if in doubt, stick to black on white.
This brings us nicely to how to use colour in your store. We all know that colour has meaning. How many of you would go through a red traffic light, even if it had ‘go’ written in black letters in the middle (the cyclists among you may think differently to motorists on this point!) This, and cultural meanings such as the wearing of white and black respectively at weddings and funerals, show that we are all aware that colours have connotations. But these examples are not natural reactions to colour, rather meanings that are inbuilt in us from a very early age, depending also on our cultural background. However, our eyes, and indeed our brain, react to certain colours instinctively.
Yellow is the first colour the human eye notices. If you want something to be eye-catching, then use yellow in the surrounding areas, perhaps on the wall, or with the floor-coverings. However, as it is the most visible of all colours, it is also an eye stimulant, and therefore after a period of time it will irritate the eyes and tire them out. If the bike or P&A item you are trying to sell is a high-ticket item that a customer may take some time looking at before making a decision to buy, perhaps yellow in the surrounding areas wouldn’t be the best option.
Green, like yellow, naturally draws the human eye towards it; so if you are looking for an attention grabber, then go for green. However, green and yellow are the two colours that hold the eye’s attention for the least amount of time. Use these colours in areas where you are selling impulse buy products, or items that don’t require a great deal of thought from the consumer before they make a decision to purchase.
With products where a customer may need more time to consider their options before buying, blue might be the best option for the display area. This is the colour that naturally holds the attention for the longest period of time. If you hold their attention for longer, then you have given yourself time to reinforce your sales message, either through other PoS material or from a sales pitch.
Colour co-ordination is another important consideration in the retail environment. It can be defined fairly broadly as an arrangement of colour that is pleasing on the eye, although this in itself is subjective. However, there are some general guidelines to stick to, in order to ensure that when you put colours together they don’t clash.
As men dominate in the bike trade, and they often believe themselves to be colour-clots, the following paragraph will be especially useful.
Imagine the full spectrum of primary, secondary and tertiary colours on a wheel starting at the top with yellow, going clockwise all the way through shades of orange, red, purple, blue and finally green which then goes back to yellow again. To achieve colour co-ordination stick by one of two things. Either put two colours together which are very close to each other on the wheel, such as dark yellow and orange, or, put colours together which are opposite each other on the colour wheel. For example, red and green. This way you strike the right balance.
The human brain puts things into an order it can understand, and to do this effectively it needs to have the right amount of information and not be over-, or under-stimulated. Getting the colour right in your bike store, either on walls, windows or on sales literature, or even the staff shirts and workshop aprons will all help to create a professional image in the mind of the consumer, which in turn will make them more inclined to buy, even if it is only on a subconscious level.
If you don’t get colour co-ordination right, the human brain will not absorb the information. Bad colour co-ordination is either too dull, or too chaotic and the brain will reject the image either because it's not being visually stimulated, or because it's being repelled by colour clashes. Another important thing to remember is to try and choose colours that have some relevance for whatever the product you are selling.
When choosing colour, be wary of ‘trendy colours’ that may move in and out of fashion very quickly. Unless you want to change your store interior and displays very frequently, you should ensure any dominant colours in your store outlast any fads for certain hues that could change within a very short period of time. By the time a trend consultant has finished telling you that ‘puce is in,’ the puce store interior you’ve just sanctioned could already be outdated. If you are especially wary about ‘of the moment colours’ then you could always play safe. Black and white, though never likely to be cutting edge trendy, will never look outdated.
Christmas IS just about red and white. Those colours, when paired, shout CHRISTMAS!
Deep purple, on the other hand, isn't just a 1970s rock combo, it's a rich, pleasing luxurious colour that works especially well at Yuletide. It can make Xmas displays of expensive goodies look especially tempting. As it has long been associated with luxury (it's been a royal colour since Phoenician times, when the colour was extracted at great price, from sea urchins) it could confuse the brain to use purple on displays of £79 cheapo bikes or bargain basement P&A.