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How to make a retail space feel premium

How to make a retail space feel premium


“These days, marketers throw around the word “premium” so much it’s lost some of its meaning. Can department stores carry premium brands? Or does wide availability make a brand somehow less premium?

Ultimately, premium is a marketing term, and therefore its definition is subject to change along with passing trends. Let’s look at what premium means in 2017 and how retailers can leverage premium brands in the marketplace.

Defining premium

So what does it mean to create a retail space that feels premium? You might think of luxury brands when you hear the word, and that’s a good place to start. However, while all luxury brands are premium, not every premium brand is luxury.

So what’s the difference? According to marketing firm Brand UNIQ, the difference begins with audience. The target audience for a luxury brand is narrowly defined – usually due to a high price tag. Premium brands target a broader general audience. Yes, premium products tend to have a slightly higher price tag, but (perceived) superior craftsmanship makes it easier for shoppers to justify the purchase.

Put simply: Calvin Klein is premium, Coco Chanel is luxury.

Designing a premium show floor

In order to justify the higher prices of premium merchandise, shoppers expect higher quality. Similarly, the retail space must also feel premium, or the products might feel out of place.

This doesn’t mean your store needs to have the minimalism of a modern art museum. Save that for luxury brands that only carry a handful of items on stock. You should avoid clutter, however.

“A free flow floor plan works well for upscale boutique shops.”

Retail design consultants Kizer & Bender noted that aisles of retail shelves should allow for adequate walking space so that merchandise on one shelf does not touch shoppers from behind as they peruse another shelf. The same goes for an island layout of circular racks.

In general, a free flow floor plan works well for upscale boutique retailers, according to Fit Small Business. This layout, which utilizes floating display tables and keeps merchandise toward the center of the show floor, allows shoppers to examine the products from every angle as they shop. Negative space between items will make them stand out and creates a visual divide between your premium brand and a generic, crowded department store.

Crafting premium window displays

To entice new shoppers into your premium store, you’ll need a premium greeting in the form of a tasteful window display. The rules are simple – have fun, get creative and avoid kitsch (unless you can make kitschy premium).

Specifically, your window displays should entice passersby with lifestyle tactics. Pixlee marketing group reported that lifestyle advertising efforts typically focus on personalization and experience.

Let’s say you’re selling a line of premium men’s grooming supplies. What kind of lifestyle do those products suggest? If it makes you think of Don Draper, consider a window display that mimics a 1960s Manhattan barbershop.

Keep your message accessible, but aspirational, and you’ll have the beginnings of a great premium brand.