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Victoria Baldwin

N0449441 Fashion Communication and Promotion FASH20031

Contents. 04...................................................................Attention all consumers 06..............................................................................A brief history 10...........................................................................The shock tactic 12.......................................................................What a load of Lush 18.......................................................The full American 24...............................................................Futurama 30..............................................................Conclusion 32..........................................................References 33.................................................................Images 34..................................................................Appendix 35................................................................Methodology

Attention all Consumers! What is it that first

catches your eye ?

when you walk past a store

trusted name of the brand, or maybe a friend’s recommendation? Or could it be the extravagant and hypnotic displays created by Is it the

stores to show off their merchandise?

A survey I held determined that over 70% stated it was in fact the window displays that caught their eye and made them curious enough to wonder into stores. This technique is professionally known as Visual Merchandising and these store displays are produced to engross and captivate the consumer. But what was once seen as a marketing stunt, something to give stores an edge and create healthy competition between other storeowners has now turned into a type of fashion Olympics. Stores compete in their categories, high street, department and Designer to win the medals of the best store windows and the best retail experience. Visual Merchandising is no longer just good business; it is now becoming a form of art. More than ever the product itself is taking the back seat while the props, wigs and ‘life like’ mannequins take to the main stage. Many a great leader including Winston Churchill have quoted ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and these inspirational words only ring too true when it comes to fashion brands, after all the actions of brands directly influence consumer behavior. As consumers we lay our trust in brands and if they were to take advantage

of that trust it could cost them. Since more and more brands are coming under recrutiny for their window displays, could it be that the peer pressure of consumer trust and delivering a service to their customers like no other is the one thing that is killing their reputation? In my report I will be discussing how far brands are prepared to go to achieve success and analysing and deconstructing their visual merchandising techniques. I will also be questioning why some brands are starting to attract attention for all the wrong reason instead of the right and how this effects consumer behaviour. Some say the industry is not diverse enough, but in contradication my question is, in terms of Visual Merchandising are brands in fact becoming too diverse? Are brands applying shock tactics to keep their consumers interested?

A brief


In 1840 the arrival of new technology in producing large panes of glass was established and department stores took advantage of this new invention and harnessed it for their own consumption. Tony Morgan a visual merchandising connoisseur explores the idea that ‘department stores were perhaps responsible for taking the art of window display to a higher level’ insisting large windows were used as ‘stages, some of them as theatrical as a Broadway show.’ (Tony Morgan, 2011) It would seem that in this moment visual merchandising was born and retail would never be the same again. Store windows became a way of enticing the customer inside and giving them a salacious preview of what stores had to offer. However the industry were sure to never know how extensive and controversial the world of visual merchandising would become in the future.

While the likes of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges are at the for front in creating glamorous, intriguing and ingenius displays, consumers and industry professionals are starting to ask questions of the ethical and moral responsibilities visual merchandisers, store designers and in general the brands themselves have to their consumers.

The SHOCK tactic! Case study

No brand is innocent of using sly marketing tactics to sway their consumer to buy from their stores and it’s no secret shocking and inventive visual displays can be effective in achieving higher sales figures . But are brands beggining to push the limits of whats acceptable? When it comes down to what’s morally and ethically right, which brands need to be questioned? With such big responsibilities , are brands beginning to take advantage of trusting consumers?

What a load of The



of a protest is to plant the seed of a - Tamsin Omond, The Guardian

public debate.

Last year cosmetics and furry friend loving brand Lush created a stir in the media when one of their store windows was transformed into a full-scale campaign against animal testing. At first glance the store window looked like a purpose built torture chamber. Innocent shoppers looked on in astonishment and some in disgust as a female volunteer was strung up by chains, gagged, force fed, prodded and poked with needles. Lush’s aim was to show the public how animals are treated when used for cosmetics testing. By displaying a human test candidate, Lush applied clever tactics exploiting their consumer’s typically vulnerable, yet humanly narcissistic nature. It is a wellknown fact we can be naturally selfish, call it the pecking order or the food chain if you will, but when it comes to animal instinct we will always protect our own. Furthermore when it comes to consumer behavior, for example being shown an advert of a rabbit being tested on, the reality is, it can’t always be enough to truly capture our attention and ascertain our sympathy. However when Lush confronted their consumer with a human test candidate, consumers reacted with more distress and outrage. If Lush were looking to shock their customers they definitely hit the nail on the head.

Fig 1

‘We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans.’

As far as anti-animal testing campaigns have gone theirs has been one of the most talked about and shocking displays. Although a large number of brands claim to support the plea to end animal testing for human produce, Lush have been prominent in making their opinion crystal clear and where other brands have failed to do this they have succeeded and were willing to risk their reputation and loss of customers to stand by their beliefs. By constructing this campaign in their Regent street store window, they managed to compel passersby to question their view on animal testing via cleverly turning the tables and creating an environment where the shoe was on the other foot. But was this window display unforgivingly just a shock tactic with no actual backbone? Agreed it was a shocking and emotive display, it evoked a very emotional response from spectators that crowded the street around the store window. But questionably how ethically friendly actually are Lush as a brand. ‘We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans.’ (Lush values, 19952014) This is the opening statement when commenting on their company values on their website but in contradiction to their statement if Lush believe themselves to be a trustworthy brand then why were some reactions more than doubtful of their intentions in the creation of their arguably provocative window display.

‘Not a



just advertising and

publicity seeking’

Fig 3

Lush don’t always practice what they preach. I’d like to see a journalist really dig and quiz Lush about the origins of some of their ingredients; they would uncover some uncomfortable truths. Yes they are better than most manufacturers but their hands are not completely clean.’ (Daily mail reader, 2013). With responses like these it begs the consumer to question their loyalty to Lush, a brand that deems themselves to be ethically and morally aware. The Lush Anti animal-testing display is just one example of how far brands will go to prove their point and stir up consumer behaviour.

With such a dramatic display being forced upon passersby it would have been naïve to not predetermine an extensively mixed reaction from the public and media. True to form some consumers were not so pleased by Lush’s window display, unsurprisingly responding with much distaste, one consumer commented, ‘This is nothing but marketing and using sickening, sensationalist techniques to paint themselves as saintly. Not a protest - just advertising and publicity-seeking.’ (The guardian reader, 2013) while another who claims to be an anonymous past Lush employee commented ‘It is a shame that

Fig 4

‘Yes they are better than most manufacturers not completely clean.’

Fig 5

but their

hands are

The FULL American! ‘We created it to invite passerbys to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form.’ - American Apparel,

American Apparel are no stranger to controversy and I think it could be fairly argued they thrive on the response they gain from their provocative and questionable choice of advertising and marketing techniques. They have a rather strict demographic and its suits them well and words like conservative and elegant would never be used to describe the brand aesthetic. However their latest stunt is definitely one for the record books. Picture this, you’re walking unsuspectingly through the city and happen to look up at an American Apparel shop window when suddenly you’re bombarded with an eyeful of the skimpily dressed mannequin in translucent lingerie which has strategically been embellished with what cannot be mistaken for anything else but fake pubic hair! Your reaction? A mix of speechlessness with a dose of feeling slightly violated but secretly you’re probably feeling curious. American Apparel have done it again and unashamedly admit ‘we created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form.’

(American Apparel, and boy did the public consider how comfortable they felt! ‘So vulgar, might as well call it STORE WINDOW PORN.’ (Huffington post reader, 2014) said one opinionated reader of The Huffington post, while others felt this stunt was an act of ‘Empowerment to women!’ (Huffington post reader, 2014), however another strongly disagreed, angrily commenting ‘How is this “empowering?” They’re just using sex to sell their swag.’ (Huffington post reader, 2014). When a small store window stimulates this much media attention as American Apparel have it implores the consumer to enquire whether this provocative display was in fact just another stunt to keep the brands mischievous reputation in tact or whether it was in fact a calculated decision with profound consideration to breach the minds of the public and implore them to deliberate their stance on how comfortable they are in their own skin.

‘Empowerment to women!’ - Huffington post reader, 2014


is this

“empowering?” They’re just using sex to sell .’ - Huffington post reader, 2014

Past campaigns from American Apparel have been no less scandalous then this resent exhibition of the ‘female form’. American Apparels brand behaviour is always outrageous, yet has undeniably perfect correlation and is consistent down to a T. They are a brand who know their aim and market and tend not to dabble in other directions. American Apparel will never make a couture line, or design clothes for royalty but will always have a cult following. However distasteful they may come across, they are still one of the most popular high street brands the industry offers. So what does that tell us about their consumer behaviour? Quite simply that people who purchase from American Apparel are of a certain age, have a distinctive style and tend to by loyal customers.

FUTURAMA What does the

future have in store for retail?

Our world is constantly changing and everyday technology and new inventions are being explored. Since curiosity is part of our basic human nature it’s no surprise as a society we’re constantly looking to the future to predict how the industry will progress. Brands similarly look to the future to calculate consumer behavior, so that they may develop their products to ever changing consumer desires. Brands tend to do this by trend forecasting and pursuing new technology inventions. With online shopping on the

rise and booming sales figures to show for it, its no surprise the high street is feeling under attack. The toll it’s taking on stores to desperately keep a physical footfall going into their stores is obvious and now particularly stores are making desperate and elaborate attempts to keep their consumer interested. What does the future predict for in store retail and how are brands going to drive purchases and encourage consumer loyalty?

‘ High street chill as online sales soar by 222 per cent. ’

‘Non-online sales in stores only grew by 12 per cent.’ - The Independent

- The Independent

‘The current gloom on the high street would have us believe that the future is bleak for physical stores, but retailers are using lateral thinking and innovative digital ideas to create shopping outlets fit for the 21st century. -

In the last decade we have already started to see Brands using technology in stores to communicate with their consumer. Brands such as Burberry and Chanel have used projections and simulations to attract consumers and assist in enhancing the in-store retail experience they offer. For example back in September 2012 Burberry opened up its new Flagship store on London’s popular shopping destination, Regent Street. But Burberry lovers were in for a treat when entering the store they were greeted by Giant glass interactive screens, which showed off catwalk collections and advertisements. The creative review online called it ‘high-tech wizardry’ and portrayed the store as being ‘a truly seductive retail experience.’ (, 2012).This is just one of the many examples of stores upping their game and keeping up with technology to maintain a physical perchusing relationship with consumers. I personal believe we are naturally tactile and will always have the want to try on clothes, touch and appreciate products in person before we make a purchase. But with Online services like Asos who offer a free returns policy if clothes aren’t suitable, it is and will carry on becoming harder for brands to establish consumer attention on a physical basis. In the future I look to an industry where both Online and in-store retail are both

popular and in demand. Although shopping online may be hassle free of finding a parking space, rooting through sales racks to find hidden gems and easily creates an escape from the overbearing crowds of busy shoppers, it still cant quite quench a thirst for a shopping experience like in-store retail can offer. That one to one connection with the shop assistant who can tell you what size you’ll need and inform you of every colour of belt possible would be sorely missed. Online shopping can’t give you that rush of excitement when you walk into a bright and friendly store where all the clothes are sprawled about in extravagant hanging patterns. I heartily believe the future of the high street is in the hands of the in-store visual staff. Although I think online shopping will grow from strength to strength, the demand for the physical shopping experience will never become completely extinct. Instead with growing new technologies and budgets, I think visual merchandising will be the key to reigniting consumer enthusiasm for outdoor, offline and in-store shopping. When visual merchandising was first established and staff began to create extraordinary window displays this small creative venture became a vital part of improving consumer footfall to the high street and sure enough I think that will be what inevitably brings the consumer back again.

‘Burberry has always been at the forefront of digital experimentation in the fashion realm.’ -


Conclusion! What is it that other brands can learn from Lush or American Apparels and their reputation? Although both of their window displays were widely controversial and provocative, they both managed to stir up a media storm and get their consumer questioning themselves. Whether it was bad or good attention, it was attention and that’s exactly what brands were looking to accomplish when they designed their displays. From deconstructing and analyzing both case studies I found that both brands are actually quite similar in more ways than one and they play very well to their strengths in order to stay popular within their consumer market. Although their window displays have been notorious for being rather scandalous both brands can sit back on the fact that they’re are ahead of the game when it comes to being ethically aware as a brand in terms of looking after our planet. Lush claims to only use human tested products from the freshest and most natural supplements whilst American Apparel are known for avoiding sweat shops and eastern third world countries to manufacture their Clothes. Instead American Apparel favour producing their clothes near their head quarters in LA for a fair wage to local workers which undeniable helps boost economy and employment. Certainly neither brand is completely saintly but the hard truth is unfortunately in this day and age it can sometimes be very difficult to be with so much competition. Which takes me back to one of my first points made. Is it consumer pressure and the ‘Olympic’ style competition that’s pushing brands to be more diverse? I would have to say yes! With so many brands popping up, the struggle is becoming even harder to stay on top and be noticed, therefore I would agree that brands are having to be more adventurous and eccentric to get attention and keep it. Although some people may find American Apparel offensive and immoral, we as consumers have to admit it works in grabbing our attention.

References Adams, R. 2014. PHOTOS: American Apparel Debuts Mannequins With Pubic Hair. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost. com/2014/01/16/american-apparel-pubic-hair-mannequins_n_4610688.html [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2013. BBC - Newsbeat - Your view: Online shopping v the High Street. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. Creative Review - Heritage meets digital in new flagship Burberry store. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. American Apparel’s mannequins sport the latest accessory: pubic hair - Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. Shopping online vs. high street | John Lewis Insurance. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Mail Online. 2012. Is this the most extreme window display ever? Brutal treatment of woman, 24, as she is subjected to ‘animal tests’ in front of horrified shoppers. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2013. Open all hours: the future of the high street | Analysis | Marketing Week. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2013. Open all hours: the future of the high street | Analysis | Marketing Week. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Morgan, T. 2010. Window display. London: Laurence King. Peacock, L. 2014. American Apparel pubic hair mannequins stunt shocks New Yorkers - Telegraph. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. A Room With a View: Transforming the In-Store Experience | Grow. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Thomas, C. 2014. Michelle Obama’s Favourite Asos Sees Sales Rocket By 41%. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Thomas, C. 2014. Can You Get A Luxury Shopping Experience Online?. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost. [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Warman, M. 2013. The future of shopping: from high street to iStreet - Telegraph. [online] Available at: technology/news/9821702/The-future-of-shopping-from-high-street-to-iStreet.html [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014].

Image References 2014. [online] Available at: zwQQ/s1600/twiggy-surprise-777x1024.jpg [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. Anonymous. 2014. [online] Available at: http:// [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: jpg [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014]. 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Jan 2014].

When writing my report I used this simple reaearch methodology.

Consulted the issue of diversity. Researched exising sources of the problem. Formulated a Hypothesis. Designed and conducted a study using case studies and research. Drew conclusions from research. Reported on results.

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