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Good merchandising does far more for a trade show booth than simply present product. It also conveys the mood of a brand, with details suggesting what one can expect to find inside. As in a retail environment, those design elements never should be arbitrary. Nuance matters.
So what happens when Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is weeks away and your booth design hasn’t yet begun? If you’re working with a super-charged team, like the personell at Yoga Journal and Nielsen, it’s a piece of cake.
Read on to understand our five steps to Yoga Zone success.
Step 1: Imagine the big picture
The zones at Outdoor Retailer provide a space for educational programming and serve as a gathering spot for show goers. SNEWS’s sister publication, Yoga Journal, was the Yoga Zone partner for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013, and the magazine worked with Merchandising Matters to create an environment in the heart of the zone that communicated its message. Whether it’s a floorset change, booth design or store remodel, the design process must begin with an overarching concept. The big picture is what will dictate the details down the road — so getting it right from the get-go is important.
The first step in developing this big picture is finding design inspiration. Yoga Journal sent images from the magazine that reflected the look and feel it wanted to invoke. Merchandising Matters searched for images of existing interiors that might reflect this personality. Then it was time to consider the details.
Inspiration begins from Yoga Journal’s images
Step two: Get the details right
It was obvious at this point that the standard trade show floor and black curtains would not complement our vision. It was time to consider what elements would help create zen on a dime in the 20-by-20-foot booth.
We knew we wanted details that were light and airy and had a natural look. We decided on a color story that included shades of light green, natural wood and black furniture accessories to tie it all together.
Interlocking foam faux wood floor? Check. Light beige draperies? Check. Electric candles? Check. Cushions for seating? Check.
During this phase, we were doing a lot of online research, reaching out to Rachel Katz Pecka at Nielsen to see what materials might be available and, most importantly, determining the themes that reflected the studio feel so we could turn inspiration into reality.
Interior image ideas
Step three: Get real
Now that we were tightening up the details, including how the space would be used, we needed to recognize the non-negotiables and attend to the budget. Non-negotiables were a TV, DVD player, speakers, literature rack and meter boards (boards in the zones that spotlight new products). The booth had to be easily reorganized to accommodate yoga programming.
There was remaining space to play with. Our search for additional items ranged from Outdoor Retailer’s exhibitor resource center, where we explored options through Freeman, to stores like Target. Yoga Journal chose graphics for its backdrop and the space was now roughly sketched out so we could explore how everything would come together.
The floor plan for Yoga Zone
Graphics for Yoga Zone wall
Step four: Commit to your choices
Sometimes the things you think you want aren’t right in the end. For example, we originally thought a gray backdrop drape would work, but upon seeing a color sample realized it was too cool in tone and switched to a warmer beige. We had considered black accent furniture for repeat and uniformity, but ultimately a blue couch was ordered to add color and additional warmth. We determined the pouf seating would not be sufficiently comfortable and opted for cube seating instead.
The finished product
Step five: Adapt
Effective booth creation would not have been possible without open collaboration. The value of cooperation became clear when the booth design was ready to be executed two days before the show opened and inevitable merchandising snafus arose. When design has been well communicated, it’s far easier to adapt — as Pecka had to do when too few cubes arrived. Because she knew the game plan, she was able to calmly head to Target and purchased different cubes that reflected design integrity.
While pulling together a brand-worthy environment on the fly is certainly possible, we don’t recommend you try this one at home. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have a killer team like we did.
Yoga Zone booth design was a collaborative effort between Yoga Journal, Merchandising Matters and Nielsen’s Rachel Katz Pecka.
SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright
is the founder of Merchandising Matters,
which provides merchandising support to brands, retailers and their agencies.
Reach her via email at email@example.com
with questions, ideas and suggestions.