Worth A Damn In-Store Data & Interactive Is Finally Here

Last month I attended the large retail design industry trade show Global Shop in Chicago.  I don’t go every year because quite honestly, the retail industry is slow to come out with much new to look at. But it had been a few years, and it was in Chicago so I could drive out there. It was a great show this year, and I spotted a few things that have me thinking that physical retail is figuring out how to catch up to on-line’s primary advantages: interactivity and data.

The main advantage of online marketing and retailing is that you have access to data. You can see how someone found your website, where they came from, where they went, virtually every step of the shopping experience can be entered into a spreadsheet. There is a limitless supply of people who will help you mine that data and tell you how much to spend, and where to spend it to (hopefully) sell more stuff. With all this data, online marketing is a pretty easy equation. And easy equations mean less spend, more profit.

Physical retail is a bit trickier. Unless you’re actually interviewing guests, or having them fill out surveys, or you’re somehow able to connect people to receipts, it’s sort of messy and expensive to identify who’s in your stores and ultimately how to market to them. I don’t know of anyone who’s solved for this holistically. I’ve thought about it (way too much) and have few ideas primarily because 1) customer attitudes needed to change and 2) technology needed to catch up.

Just a few years ago “spying” on consumers, and asking them to pony up information was  impossible. But now in a world where our lives are on multiple, mostly public, social media sites and everyone is on the hunt for free wi-fi, consumers are more inclined to share high level data in exchange for something.

And even if we did want to find out more about guests in stores, the technology just wasn’t there for us to do so without a lot of effort, cost or intrusion. But now we have cameras, sensors, connections to mobile devices everywhere. And savvy consumers are okay with it.

Finally traditional retail can start to level the playing field with online retail.

As I walked to McCormick Place floor and thought about real multichannel retail marketing, four companies caught my eye at the show this year. Here is my take on why the work they are doing is important to tangible stores and keeping pace with online.

 

Data Display (http://www.dd-usa.com)

What it is: Using RFID technology, Data Displays (DD) displays can sense when a guest had picked up a product and can play a marketing message relevant to that product.

Why it’s important: The internet tracks everything you click on and provides information and makes recommendations based on that.  What DD is doing here is a big leap to usefully and proactively interacting with guests. No longer do I have to press a button to get info. This also gives real purpose to the video screens. They aren’t just for playing mindless advertising loops anymore. They now have a purpose and are an integral part of the sales process in store.

How to get it right: Make sure you have good, concise, engaging content on the video screen. Have a good maintenance and content strategy. NO BLANK SCREENS! Embellish the experience with subtle lighting cues and traditional graphics.

What’s next: I’d like to see technology that can track line of sight so we can capture guests who aren’t even picking products up, rather just window shopping, and share product information with them. Would be nice to gather demographic information as well as number of touches by product.

Parcel Pending (https://www.parcelpending.com)

What it is: Turn-key solution for “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) situations where customers can pick up products or parcels at their leisure, even after hours. Units are modular including refrigerated units. They are controlled by an interactive kiosk. Door pop open automatically after you enter in your data.

Why it’s important: This was the most exciting thing I saw, because I feel like the possibilities are endless. Grocery stores could use these to aid new online shopping experiences. The units are great for apartment buildings, adding more space and technology that can adapt – no longer one box per person, rather can be tailored to parcel size, on an “as needed” basis. These modular units can be part of the foundation for whole new retail experiences. They ultimately can free up store shelves, reduce real estate footprints, and really revolutionize retail as we know it. They are fully integrated to our online shopping habits already and can fulfill our need for instant gratification. And they can be treasure troves of data.

How to get it right: Work on your supply chain and challenge conventional thinking. Leverage their modularity and scalability to suite your business and geography. Leverage data collection to learn the demographics of who is using them and how. Vinyl wraps can let them stand out or fade into the background.

What’s next: I’d love to get my hands on these modules and build out a pop-up store solution, or solution for independent retailers to bring them into the 21st century. Refrigerated units combined with grocery store online ordering could revolution how we buy groceries. In general the store of the future will forego store shelves, have banks of these units and supplement them with impulse shopping opportunities or product and brand experiences. These could take convenience shopping to the next level and be bad news for traditional (and online) retail. A real game changer in the right hands.

 

 

Gable (https://gablecompany.com)

What it is: Digital signage, interactive media and architectural graphic elements.

Why it’s important: I was impressed by Gable’s fit and finish on their mall kiosk. The detailing was done well, and in retail, details do matter. Digital signage technology has grown by leaps and bounds, and there are a lot of players in this space. Digital signage and interactive is a great way to communicate a lot of information efficiently in real time.

How to get it right: Track how people are using your kiosks: where are they going, when are they using the unit, what are they interested in. Large format digital signage is ,very effective in any retail environment, at capturing short attention spans. You likely need to include something digital in your environment, make sure you have great content, it’s relevant and useful. Invest in creative and user experience, not just the technology. Make sure your form factors are on brand, and pay attention to details and quality.

What’s next: There is a lot of opportunity for style to factor into the design of digital displays. Modular LED panels allow limitless sizes to be created. Corners, columns, ceilings, floors…you can seemingly cover anything with digital signage. Interactive has the potential to give us the future we’ve always imagined. And the opposite of that is, can the tech recede into the background and we focus on content and stunning photography, and content generation.

Stratecache (https://www.stratacache.com/solutions/digital-signage/)

What it is: What is seemingly just digital signage is also content management, real time data management and content delivery. Stratecache’s digital signage can recognize guest demographics (e.g. male or female) and tailor marketing content deliver specific to the guest. Can connect with guests’ mobile devices. Their system can seamlessly network your brand content across all doors and update in real time.

Why it’s important: This is as close as you can get to an online experience at retail in terms of pushing out brand content, and taking in high level, actionable consumer data.

How to get it right: Assure consumers that their privacy is being maintained, while gathering insight into who is coming to your store. And while not specific to any one supplier or retailer, the idea of an op-in for wi-fi is a great way to have consumers voluntarily connect with you. From there you can start connecting the dots between consumer and behavior. Leverage tracking cameras to understand who is in your store and what are they looking at. Have relevant and accurate content ready to go so that once you recognize who’s in your store you’re pushing the right message at the right time in  the right place. Pretty simple, right?

What’s next: Yes, it’s like a sci-fi movie, but this is the world we live in. And there’s no reason physical retail shouldn’t be privy to the same data digital marketing has, within the bounds of consumer comfort. I’d like to see all of this technology coupled with register and online sales data. Some very smart people can then take all of this data and create a “world” of information that will give brands a realistic image of what retail looks like. And consumers will be delighted by tailored experiences. Less about stuff and more about ease. That’s when the fun starts.

 

In closing I’ll say a few things. First, I think physical retail is always going to be relevant. People simply like touching stuff. I don’t see how that ever goes away. Tech tools are coming into their own to help level the playing field of tangible experiences versus online experiences. And lastly, I think we are on the cusp of some massive changes in retail – the store of the future is going to look a lot different and I’m super excited to help shape it if I can.

What are your thoughts on the future of physical retail? What about these tech solutions I highlighted? Any others out there you like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Cheers!

-Chris

 


Chris Weigand is an industrial designer and retail design consultant based in sunny (today at least) Ohio. No, he didn’t get paid, nor does he endorse these companies necessarily, rather they’re just good examples in his opinion based on what he was seeing at one trade show. The reality is being in retail is pretty freaking exciting and interesting. If you’d like to explore the future of retail for your business with Chris, give him a call at (330) 858-8926 (cell) today. Or you prefer he can be reached via email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

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Brand New Beginnings

We are assuming spring will show up someday here in Ohio. And with spring comes spring cleaning. And while we clean up the home office, and get rid of the random stuff laying around taking up space, we also start thinking about the rest of this year and the future. Fresh starts, new beginnings.

We’re going to make a push this year to work directly with more brands. Any time we can focus on brand, and solving marketing challenges by directly partnering with them, it’s going to be more effective, creative and engaging.

We have over two decades of working with brands, from large ones with fancy websites and in thousands of doors to small ones that barely have two dimes to rub together. It’s about making connections. It’s about writing your brand story and communicating that to the world in tangible, meaningful ways.

That’s what we do for you.

You are people, your customers are people. We connect people.

My touchy feely take may not be enough to prompt you to pick up the phone, so here are some service details. We like to truly partner with your brand so that we can understand how you operate, what your goals are (or help you craft those goals), and understand your brand and customers. Then we work with you to create meaningful connections, wherever the world interacts (or should interact) with your brand.

So, there’s nothing proprietary about creatively solving problems, or seizing opportunities if you’re hard core “glass is half full” kinda person. Thinking about this I’m going to frame up what we do in this list below. But every brand and situation is unique; this is the toolbox we have at our disposal, and kinda the order we work in:

  • relationship building – understanding your business, brand, challenges
  • research – trends, marketplace, materials, society, shopper mindset, culture
  • strategy – goals, ideation, role-play, finances, sourcing, foundation building
  • framing – articulating challenges, inspiration, reference,
  • concept – play, mock-up, long walks on the beach
  • design – visualization, human factors, ergonomics, user experience, wrestling
  • making – sourcing, pricing, specifications, engineering, programming
  • execution – construction, events, going live, maintenance
  • relationship building – identifying and understanding new opportunities

Straight up, these are the skills we bring:

  • strategy – design, marketing, in-store, online
  • graphic design – packaging, signage, web, environment
  • industrial design – retail, product, human factors, ergonomics, packaging
  • interior design – space planning, retail, some commercial and hospitality
  • UX (user experience) – web, interactive, retail
  • digital – web, SEO, digital marketing strategy, social media
  • interactive – kiosk design, event planning, in-store digital strategy
  • editorial – copywriting, social media, editing
  • support – creative capacity, sales support, sourcing

Services are services, and process is process. We try to keep it simple. We want this to be fun. We’d love it if we can meet with your brand team to find out how we’d approach connecting your brand to the world and see if we’d be a great fit. You can call me at (330) 858-8926 and let’s discuss. Thanks.

Now if we could just get spring to show up…

-Chris

visit us at http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com.

New(ish) Inline Fixture at Target is Spot On

A little while back, on one of my several-times-a-week trips to Target, I spotted this Hearth & Hand upgrade to the Home department. Chip & Joanna Gaine’s brand Magnolia is pretty mainstream. We’ve even worked on a Magnolia project (so it really must be mainstream lol). So having an offshoot in Target isn’t surprising as the marketing arc completes itself.

I really liked the execution of the brand at mass retail. I stopped and (secretly…shhhh) snapped a few photos to share with you all. I don’t know who designed this but I think they did a decent job of creating a stage for Magnolia’s curated product offering of home decor and lifestyle products.

The overall look is clean and simple with a palette consisting of clear coated steel, matte black powder coat and a light natural (pine?) wood. Also there’s a nifty wood door looking panel on the show end cap. It give a contemporary look while honoring the authentic look that honors the brand. Shelves and fixtures are arranged, off of a standard gondola backbone, in a way that evokes “boutique”; once again, on brand.

Have these materials been used before?

You betcha.

Do they still work?

Yes indeed.

A hundred years from now retail designers will be using clear coated steel and natural wood together and it’ll work perfectly.

What would I fix? Really I’d fix the merchandising…we need some taller products in the boutique areas inline, where the shelves step down to create a stage. Instead we’re left with book holders or some other low product. And on the show end cap all the product is low. Gimmie a plant or something tall to keep my eye moving.

Kuddos to the framed hanging headers. I do this all the time on concepts because it’s simple and looks great – gets the message across in an elegant way allowing everyone to focus on brand not fixture. Nothing about this fixture is overdone, and the details – exposed welds, nods to board and baton siding, and barn doors – all work together to provide delight without stealing attention from the product.

I love seeing the exposed spot welds on the well proportioned shelf frames that are all meticulously lined up. Like saying “we’re artsy, yet organized”.

Spot on.

-Chris

 


 

Chris Weigand is a professional designer and artist (and politician and…) who operates a fun little boutique retail design consultancy in the middle of a National Park in Ohio. He loves shopping, or at least window shopping, whenever he can. If you’d like to have Chris and his wicked awesome partners work on putting art and strategy to your brand at retail or online, contact him today at (330) 858-8926. We are totally not affiliated with Target or Magnolia, we just dig the way they’re doing things.

Why We Create Inspiration Boards

A lot of people (clients?) think designers turn a switch and crank out a creative solution in between trips to the Keurig. As great as that sounds the truth is creative problem solving, which is what design is, is anything but predictable and on demand. It’s a process that, in all honesty, designers are cycling through all the time; even when they’re not working on a specific project.

Creativity isn’t some bottomless well of rainbows, clay and iPhones. Designers need inspiration to couple with knowledge, skill and experience to create effective design solutions. I’m always looking at the world around me for inspiration. It’s like keeping a knife sharp. Staying inspired to create and solve.

There is a process to design. I like to start with a creative brief which outlines the task at hand, timing and deliverables. Next the team and I identify and research the brand, product and marketplace. At this time we look to trends and inspiration before we put pen to paper. Images, words and materials are arranged artfully on (typically virtual) “boards” that we reference throughout the design process. I liken it to cleansing your palate before a really good meal. Collecting information and then coupling that with trend and inspiration boards gets everyone in the right frame of mind to create a design solution. In fact we often include these boards in our final presentation so everyone understands what inspires the aesthetic and functional design details. It’s more about purposeful fact based design, and less about objective or personal preference. We never just throw stuff up on a wall.

I don’t know if there is a formal definition for any of the boards we create, but here is how I define them and how we use them, along with examples of boards we’ve created for clients.

Trend Board – whenever I travel I’m always looking at stores, buildings, products, displays, events; taking photos with my phone and collecting ideas. See enough of the same things in various places and you’re starting to see trends firsthand. I also look online at store websites to see seasonal collections, trend websites to see what they’re saying the latest trends are; anywhere we can get a pulse on society. And they may not always be images, products or colors. They could be social or shopping trends in which case we’ll capture that with an image of some sort.

cwd-sw-florida-indigo

This trend board highlights the popularity of the color indigo that we were seeing at retail in the winter of 2014. Actually indigo is a timeless color choice and always a good option to at least consider for many projects.

Inspiration / Mood – These are the most fun because they can be virtually anything, and while they are somewhat subjective, they help inspire the designer to design. Pinterest and Google searches are great places to find inspirational images. As a designer I look to colors, textures, product design details, fashion, nature, architecture, global influences, essentially anything and everything to generate inspiration boards. These boards inspire and set the tone for the design. A project could have just one or a dozen plus boards, it just depends on the scope and how much reference material we’re drawn to.

Here is a collection of some of our favorite mood boards that we’ve created. Gathering this inspiration for a project is one of our favorite parts of being designers.

inspire-page-2

A board with images of people helps set the tone for the project and get us in the right mindset. We can use this as a benchmark when evaluating concepts to see if they evoke these emotions.

inspire-board-5

A mixture of materials, product, fashion and historical images makes for a great mood board.

inspire-3

A board focused on how great black and charcoal make colors pop.

inspire-board-4

These simple boards are some of the best in conveying an idea. Note the composition of the board isn’t happenstance either, it helps convey the mood or feel we’re trying to get across.

inspire-page-1

We often like to have a theme to a board, such as “line” on this one. The all wood images are purposeful too, as the display in question we knew was going to feature this light wood tone.

Word Cloud – occasionally on larger or deeper projects we’ll collect words and create a word cloud to inspire us and keep us on task. These words help us define the problem and what success looks like. It’s created at the beginning and we use it at the end to weigh our design solutions against – to make sure we are on brand.

word-cloud

Words can be just as effective in setting the tone for a project. They are also helpful in judging a solution to see if it is on brand and effective.

Material Board – It’s good to have a sense of what materials will work with the brand or product we’re promoting at retail. We’ll also consider the materials of the surrounding space that we may not be able to control. A material board can be “high level” indicating general wood tones, paint colors, and materials such as glass and plastic. Or we might get very specific and call out actual laminate names and numbers or paint specs. The material board is created in concert with trend and inspiration boards; it might even be created after we’ve started the design process.

gm-materials-board

A materials board for a snack bar project. It includes possible laminates, graphic colors, paint colors, and inspiration images that drove the color selection.

One last note, sometimes we even combine several of these into one board to help guide us through a project or tier the various concepts we know we’re going to work on. Below is an example of how we combined a word cloud with inspirational images to set the tone for a specific concept that was yet to be designed.

tiering concepts 02

There you have it, my quick overview of these fun design tools and why we use them. Where do you find inspiration? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC in Peninsula, Ohio. Gathering inspiration is one of his favorite parts of the design process. His love of nature, automobiles, art and architecture all manifest themselves in his designs. If you’d like to find out more about how Chris and his team can help inspire your next amazing design experience, visit the CWD website at http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com and contact him by phone at (330) 858-8926 or email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

You can visit the Chris Weigand Design Pinterest page by clicking here to start getting inspired today. Be sure to follow us.

Catch the Pokemon Wave

Seemingly out of nowhere Pokemon Go took over the world earlier this July. The free downloadable app was, and still is, the talk of social and news media. Turns out chasing imaginary creatures is getting everyone off of the couch and, for at least a moment or two, forgetting about elections, violence and all the bills they have to pay. It’s basically like a much welcome break from reality during a very hot and tiresome summer here in the U.S.

The app was launch without much anticipation or fanfare, but none the less has resulted in big bucks for Nintendo, the parent company that owns the Pokemon brand. Their evaluation was up way over 25%, or $11 billion (that’s with a “b”) in just a week according to an article on qz.com. Even if you don’t believe what they say as far as valuation goes, there is no denying the initial impact of the app on our short attention span society.

How long will the party last? Who knows. But what can and should you do to make the best of an incredible situation?

Merchants Seize the Opportunity

Not surprisingly, savvy merchants are taking advantage of everyone getting off of their couches and getting out to find imaginary creatures in our cities, towns and parks. A pizza shop in Long Island spent $10 on “lures” to lure Pokemon, and the people looking to capture Pokemon, to their shop and their sales were up 75% over the weekend.

Soon merchants will be able to sponsor their location to attract even more customers.

The beauty of the app is it’s getting people of every demographic off the couch and out into society looking for these critters. Families are putting down the iPads and wanting to go on hikes, or visit downtown to find Pokemon. Business people are taking a few minutes at lunch or before work exploring to find Pokemon. And when people are exploring, they get hungry, thirsty and want to visit your store.

A Spearow by Starbucks? Why yes, I’ll stop in for a latte.

Take Advantage of the Pokemon Go Trend

In the game there are “PokeStops” where gamers can get much needed enhancements to the game. As a merchant, download the app and figure out where the closest PokeStop is to you. If you’re lucky your venue may even be one, which should already be attracting people. In our town there are several churches and businesses that are PokeStops or PokeGyms.

As mentioned, it doesn’t cost much to “lure” Pokemon and their explorers to your shop. You get a couple free lures when you sign up, and additional ones only cost a few dollars and last for a half hour. Spread the word on social media that you dropped a lure and wait for customers.

Once there, be creative with how you seize the Pokemon phenomenon. Tout your business as “Pokemon Central” by offering provisions for explorers – water, food, licensed product. Maybe make it social by starting a club or offering discounts for people who’ve found certain Pokemon. Create photo ops for people to take pictures with their yet to be captured Pokemon in front of your store.

Missed the Wave?

No idea what Pokemon Go is, or you missed it completely? No worries, in our short attention span society there will surely be another app, event or trend that you can seize to amp up your bottom line.

Take the time to be aware of trends as they happen. Regularly read the news, and pay attention to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear what people are talking about. Observe you customers and talk to them to find out what they’re interested in.

My family didn’t pick up on Pokemon Go until three days into it, by then it was on the mainstream media. But there is still plenty of life in the trend cycle for Pokemon Go as they add features and improve the app.

Even if you missed it, establish habits now for how your business will react to social trends in order to enhance your bottom line. Trend watching is just as important as inventory, customer service and pricing for your business. With good habits and creativity you may be discovering some happy additions to your bottom line by year’s end.

In the meantime I think there’s a Rattata in the office that needs to be caught…

-Chris


When not out looking for Pokemon, Chris Weigand is an industrial designer specializing in branding and retail design. As president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, Chris and his team help some of the largest brands and retailers in the world, as well as independents, local and start-ups connect with customers out in the marketplace. Contact Chris today at (330) 858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddeisgn.com to find out how he can help your brand seize upon the latest trends influencing the marketplace.

Peg, Slat, Grid

We’re working on designing a whole new interior merchandising system for a national retailer this month. As I’m working on the design for their new fixtures I found myself revisiting a common question the retailers and brands have been asking since the dawn of modern retail design.

What is the best route to go when merchandising product on hooks – pegboard, stall wall or wire grid?

Over the course of twenty plus years of designing retail solutions, I don’t have an answer for you. Like most everything in life: it depends.

Here’s my take on these three ways to peg product in your store.

Pegboard

Usually made from masonite or hardboard, sometimes plastic, pegboard is likely one of my favorite ways to merchandising hanging product. The holes are usually 1″ x 1″ on center, and about 1/4″ in diameter. The board thickness is usually a 1/4″ as well.

Pegboard may be painted any color you want, or covered with a durable paper coating to make it look like wood grain, or your favorite pattern. You can even direct print right on the surface. Often time retailers will use perforated cover sheets of paper to color block in-line sections of gondolas. Target started this trend about ten years ago, and now it’s everywhere.

Pegboard is a great looking, great functioning solution that works great on endcaps, in-line and outposts. It’s not as common on power wings, but you certainly can use the material for that application. There are a ton of pegboard accessories available. The one inch centers can make merchandising a challenge, when trying to squeeze everything in.

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Pegboard Skinz from Panel Processing turn white pegboard into a signage opportunity.

Slat Wall

Slat wall is typically viewed as “old fashioned” by marketers, retailers and brands. Which is a shame because it’s so versatile. The slats are usually spaced 3″ – 4″ apart, and offer unlimited spacing left to right, unlike pegboard.

It used to be that all you could get was slat that looked yellowed when it came out of the box. These days though you’re limited only by your imagination. Typically made from MDF, modern slat wall slats may be milled in a variety of patterns and spacing. Taking it a step further, you can get slat wall that looks like old barn boards, brick or faux distress metal.

Slat wall is heavy and cumbersome so you usually only see it fastened to real walls, and not on gondolas too often. But it’s a fantastic solution, if you can convince the marketing and retail peeps that it’s no longer old fashioned.

Barnwood+natural+.jpg

Barnwood slat wall from Dimensional Impact

Wire Grid

Go into any store and I bet you the power wings are all wire grid. It’s a ubiquitous way to peg these displays that’s worked for decades. Less common is wire grid merchandising in-line or on outposts, but it’s out there. We specified tons (literally) of wire grid for merchandising gift wrap and party goods when I worked corporate.

The grid wires are usually an inch on center. Wire grid is almost as good as slat wall for limitless merchandising left to right. You just have to look out for the vertical wires. They make hooks that are notched for the vertical wires, which helps in fine tuning merchandising.

The down side of wire is it’s not the most attractive thing in the world. You can powder coat it any color you want. One cool trick: put a backdrop of a contrasting color or an image behind the wire grid to snazz things up a bit.

cpw e display wire grid eg.jpg

Wire grid can be fun to play around with, such as the curved shapes on this battery concept. (designed by Chris Weigand ~2003)

Parting Thoughts

There’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with legacy issues – not wanting to throw everything out and restart from scratch. So you may have two or more types of hanging merchandising systems to contend with. I don’t think it’s too big a deal if you mix and match. Often power wings will only come in wire grid, and pegboard is pretty standard for in-line gondolas. Merchandisers are good at keeping track of accessories throughout the store, so they’ll know where their stash of pegboard hooks is.

Regardless of which route you go, standard hooks and accessories are prevalent for each system. And there are common sizing standards for each system, so if you do have leftover accessories you can usually continue to find a spot to use them. You can even find some hooks that work in multiple systems, such as peg hooks that work on slat wall.

For me, I make my selection on a case by case basis. All three can be made to look incredible and all are functional.

I hope this little snippet overview gets you thinking about merchandising, and that it was helpful. Cheers!

-Chris

Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design consultancy based in northeast Ohio. Chris has been designing awesome hanging product merchandising, and other retail design solutions for two decades. He’s lent his expertise to many of the world’s largest retailers including Walmart, Target, CVS and Lowe’s. Contact him at (330) 858-8926 to discuss your retail design needs. He and his team would love to work with you.

 

North American Int’l Auto Show Roundup

We took the opportunity to visit the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. And I thought I’d share with you some of the things we found interesting there.

Auto shows are great venues to see the latest trends not only in-car design but also in color, textures, materials. And the cars are not the only attraction. For retail designers there are plenty of great displays and exhibits to get inspiration from.

If you can’t make it to Detroit, which is the premiere show in the U.S., visit one of the other big shows such as New York, L.A. or Chicago if you can. Otherwise find a show near you. The auto show in Cleveland is one of the largest in the country, and many of the cars and displays from the big name shows can be seen just up the road from us, here in Northeast Ohio.

Observations from Detroit:

  • hybrids and electric cards are becoming mainstream, and the design of their charging stations it unique opportunity for branding and design
  • matte paint finishes continue to trend. Volvo and Mercedes had a lot of matte cars
  • interactive kiosks were everywhere, even replacing the static info boards by the cars on display. (Also you can find them in car dealerships, by the way – was in a Jeep dealer this past weekend and they had kiosks all over)
  • the design of exhibits seemed heavy on hospitality with nice desks, benches and seating areas, including benches with tablets and headphones for listening to music
  • the Buick display stood out for its use of fine finishes and curves. Lots of curves and attention to details
  • great graphic design on display, both in exhibits and on cars
  • large video walls were prominently used. Infiniti, Scion and Chevrolet in particular. You could see through Chevy’s LED video walls.