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Designed for Success, Part 1

By: Annet King
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 5 of 6

Research shows that empty, poorly stocked shelves don’t sell product, because no one wants to purchase the last sunscreen or candle. They should be full, but not jammed to the point that clients can’t extract their selections easily.

The same goes for people. Ideally, you want the place to be buzzing, and that means some level of body contact. The music should be pumping, and clients should be reaching around each other to load up their baskets—just the opposite of the typical treatment room and spa experience. This is a good thing. Just beware of the fact that shoppers universally dislike colliding with poorly placed displays. Provide them with enough room to maneuver without becoming too close to the inventory or other clients. Casual contact, such as the brushing of shoulders or elbows, is OK and may even add to the excitement of hunter/gatherer consumerism.

Keep in mind that women are under more pressure than ever before in history, and this has altered their shopping patterns. The leisurely browsing and indecisive perusal that drove a generation of husbands wild with frustration is coming to an end, according to market experts. More and more women shop with a single task in mind, as well as an attitude of purpose and focus—what consumer analysts call the “hit and split.” Keeping this in mind, don’t waste her time with complicated displays and floor plans featuring inaccessible merchandise. Today’s woman is on the run and knows what she wants. Meeting her shopping needs today is almost like handing off a cold energy drink to a marathon runner as she sprints by the stands. Don’t get in her way!

Mapping the transition

According to Mathew Divaris, creative and marketing director for Dermalogica, the answers are all around you. “How we feel inside a space has a lot to do with elements as simple as the height of the ceiling. A low ceiling creates a feeling of intimacy, because it seems to press people more closely together. A slightly lowered ceiling in the reception and treatment areas, for instance, can make clients feel cozy and lets them believe that they have the undivided attention and care of the staff. It’s a private feeling,” he explains. “The ceiling can lift dramatically in a retail space—a more impersonal or public area. This feeling of ‘liftoff’ is energizing and exhilarating, and creates a sense of liberation, discovery and excitement. A higher ceiling also offers better acoustics and enhanced venues for strong lighting.”

Divaris cites two diverse examples—modern nightclubs and classical cathedrals—as instances of how manipulating space can influence emotion. “In both cases, opposed as they may seem, these two structures typically feature a long, narrow entryway with a low ceiling. This is sort of the check-in area, where you pass through the velvet ropes. Then, once you’ve been initiated, you step out into a space that just soars up around you. It resonates on a very deep, visceral level,” he says.