Christmas Merchandising in Germany

April 14, 2008
Written by Anja Sonnenberg
I always thought that the unspoken rule of thumb when it came to Christmas displays in a retail store was no sooner than November 1st. 
I always thought that the unspoken rule of thumb when it came to Christmas displays in a retail store was no sooner than November 1st.  The pumpkins and witches would then be replaced with poinsettias and elves.  Maybe this rule only applies to North America. This past September, I went to Germany for a family vacation and took the opportunity to visit a local garden centre.

Well you can imagine how shocked I was to see St.Nicholas watching me from every corner of the store as early as mid-September.

Unlike our Christmas displays, which are confined to one department, their store had seasonal decorations everywhere.  Regardless of the department, Christmas was the main focus – the garden centre was transformed into a Christmas store.  Every product in the store was marketed as a suitable gift for Christmas – statues, fountains, tools, bird feeders, pots, plants – and were all displayed with a big bow or ribbon.   The marketing idea was to help consumers realize that everything in the store could be a gift.

The Christmas displays themselves were all assembled in single-coloured themes – silver, blue, gold, white.  By using product groupings of one uniformed colour, it created a very effective presentation of items with various shapes and sizes. 

There are numerous thoughts on what makes an excellent gift display.  You have to know who your market is and how they'll react.  If you have very conservative customers, they probably won't appreciate trendy displays with all the bells and whistles.  On the other hand, you want to keep things fresh to entice them to return to your store again and again.

An excellent way to make sure you're up on current trends for the season is to visit your local mall and gift stores. Visit Pier 1 Imports, The Bombay Company, Sears, or The Bay – even though they don't sell plants, you can learn a lot from their displays.  What colours are they using?  How are they grouping their products?  What are they using to create the 'Wow' factor?  Shopping is one of the best forms of research you can do at any time of year.

To help you with your Christmas displays, read Brian Minter's article entitled 'Boosting Winter Sales' (page 6).  I'm sure you'll be able to glean some excellent ideas for your own Christmas merchandising.

Wishing you and your loved ones peace, happiness and prosperity in the New Year!

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