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How Window Dressers Lure You into Stores

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How Window Dressers Lure You into Stores


There’s a scene in the 2009 romantic comedy film Confessions of a Shopaholic where the titular character, Rebecca Bloomwood, walks by a high-end window display. Rebecca slows her steps as she contemplates going into the store. Suddenly, the mannequins in the display come to life. They talk to her, smile at her, and lure her with the sumptuous sights of the luxury clothes and accessories they’ve been adorned with. Within seconds, Rebecca yields and walks into the polished interiors of the New York clothing boutique.

This is more or less what window display designers have to do in their line of work. Window dressing for brands is a kind of visual merchandising. Whenever you notice that a shop has closed off its window displays for renovation, it means magic is in the works. The new windows transform the store to convince you to walk into the store with just a glance, so first impressions are everything. Most window displays will feature mannequins or just the products’ arrangements, but the exceptional ones can tell a true story to their brand.

Let’s look at the five elements of visual merchandising and some famous examples.

How Window Dressers Lure You into Stores 1


This is one of the most powerful elements of anything visual. Colors have the power to communicate and evoke emotions and reactions. This is rooted in color psychology. The study believes that we are conditioned to have certain psychological reactions to specific colors.

Red, for example, is one of the more eye-catching colors on the spectrum. It communicates power, danger, or even love and sex. It’s also believed to stimulate hunger in most people. This is why red is a predominant color in the marketing materials of many fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and so on.

Brands often have a signature color or color scheme that they stick to. And sometimes, a brand’s image is so popular and iconic that seeing its signature color alone will prompt the image of the brand in people’s minds. Luxury jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. has successfully attached its brand to its signature light robin’s egg blue color, otherwise known as Tiffany Blue. The brand is also known for having some of the most beautiful and visually striking window displays, especially during the holiday season.


Marketing images are much more interesting and effective when they tell a clear story. Sometimes the emotional appeal is used to tug at the viewers’ heartstrings. Other times the display designer will try to communicate a specific message. One example is Patron Tequila’s window display collaboration with Selfridges. Harlequin Design, the London-based design agency responsible for the display, earned an award for this display at the Visual Merchandising and Display Awards.

Exposing the market to the maximum amount of merchandise

This is one of the most common approaches to window display design. But being able to arrange all those products without creating a haphazard mess is an art that few can pull off. Beauty retailer Sephora is one such brand. Since the retailer carries many brands, it might be a bit more of a challenge for Sephora to create eye-catching window displays that aren’t messy.

So they often use massive images of models or products on their windows to get their point across. It also helps that the windows and doors at Sephora are all glass, so passersby are teased with a glance of the store’s polished and alluring interiors.

Utilizing space

Space is one of the main tools that designers are given. How they use that space is where the magic happens. Sometimes a designer will take on a minimalist – but no less effective – approach. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Bergdorf Goodman.

The luxury brand is known for its opulent holiday displays that fill every last inch of space with an eye-catching and theme-appropriate decoration piece. It takes 10 months to design their fabulous displays, and the effort pays off every time. Even if their products are well out of your budget, it’s hard not to take a few minutes to appreciate the detail and craftsmanship that goes into their displays.

Creating a focal point

To tell a story, one must pull the viewer’s focus to a specific part of the image. One of our favorite examples is a fantastic display by Tiffany & Co. The display shows a dimly lit blue landscape of mousetraps set with cheese. Illuminated on the far right side is the focal point – a small mouse figure in the brand’s iconic blue shade holding a yellow gold ring. Next to the rat is a clearly defeated mouse trap on its side and missing its bait.

The next time you walk by a store with an eye-catching display, take the time to appreciate the thought that was put into it. There is much more to window design than just placing products and mannequins on a window display.

Samuel J. Morales

Beer geek. Tv trailblazer. Passionate internet practitioner. Gamer. Lifelong introvert. At the moment I'm working with tar in Africa. Spent 2001-2005 getting to know junk bonds in Minneapolis, MN. In 2008 I was marketing squirt guns in Naples, FL. Earned praised for my work selling pond scum in Minneapolis, MN. Set new standards for merchandising action figures in Miami, FL. Earned praised for my work implementing sock monkeys in Prescott, AZ.