Since back-to-school is in full swing, I asked my friend Glen Tyler to discuss his opinion of which retailers are hitting a home run with their at-store marketing.
As an obsessive at-store marketer, I sometimes have difficulty separating my work time and leisure time. Such was the case when my wife and I took the kids to the mall last weekend to shop for back-to-school supplies. I couldn’t help but notice that many retailers were geared up for this important season in retail. And why shouldn’t they be? Back-to-school is the second-busiest time of year next to the winter holiday season. The National Retail Federation estimates that K-12 and college back-to-school spending will be $83.8 billion this year.
My family and I saw plenty of great examples on our shopping travels. Anyone who has been paying attention to the retail industry for the last several months knows has heard a lot of talk about JC Penney’s marketing efforts, so I wanted them to be our first stop. I was very impressed with their at-store presence. Immediately my eyes were drawn to the back-to-school chalkboard looking signs. These signs were gently twirling in the center of the store which not only served as a great focal point, but seemed to point to other back-to-school specials throughout the store. JC Penney also made good use of smiling faces and a touch of nostalgia in their messages, as is indicated in the picture with the VW bus and vintage road signs.
It was easy to be drawn into The Children’s Place on our next stop. Their window display was an attention-grabber with an electronic back-to-school message. This conveniently matched their intricately designed flashing arrow sign, placed in the center of the store. Like JC Penney, this too served as a focal point which drew my eyes into the middle of the store. I’m sure it was no accident, because this also was placed right above the cash register.
As I entered the store, I was immediately taken back several decades to the 1950’s and 1960’s. Notice how well they appealed to a sense of nostalgia with in-store messages that were very creative with consistent bright bold color schemes, use of emotion, and off-set fonts.
Next on our tour was a favorite retailer of mine, Target. Walking into their stores always puts a smile on my face as their in-store signing consistently reflects emotion. The in-store marketing also has bold splashes of red throughout the store and is strategically placed in locations to draw shoppers attention to seasonal items and specials. Pencil one in for Target as it’s clear they are appealing to back-to-school shoppers with their pencil and Crayola® themes being used throughout the store.
Realizing that the kids needed new sneakers, we looked at several shoe retailers before Payless Shoes caught our eyes. They cleverly used school bus colors and lettering to consistently promote not only their shoes, but other back to school necessities such as fall hats, scarves, and handbags. Pricing was also clearly marked to promote discounts throughout the store. Because of their in-store marketing, I walked out with a few pairs of shoes for the kids and a pair of flats for my wife.
I really enjoyed my back-to-school shopping experience, and with several hundred dollars spent on necessities (and some impulse items), I feel the kids are prepared for school and my wife and I are ready to get them there in style.
Retail marketers, an appeal to emotion and a nostalgic feel was predominate throughout much of the retail marketing I saw on this back-to-school journey. Has this theme had a positive effect on your sales at the cash register? What other appeals to emotion have been successful in your at-store marketing efforts? I also know that I passed by several retailers that do an outstanding job of drawing in shoppers for this time of year. Which are your favorites? Please share your observations and insights.