CHANGES By Linda Cahan
I know a woman should never reveal her age – especially as she gets older than many other people in her field. A study was done about how baby boomers perceive their ages and to my delight, it said that the average boomer (born between1946-1964) expects to stay young forever. This isn’t just a figure of speech. Many of us really expect to die before we get old (thanks to The Who.) According to one study, baby boomers defined “old age” as starting three years after the average American was dead. I must admit, I feel good about my age as the years have brought me some incredible experiences and I continue to look forward to new ones.
Visual Merchandising as a term didn’t exist when I started working right out of college in 1971. I was a display person or, coming from New York, a “schlepper” – a Yiddish term that means “to drag, pull or carry stuff all over the place.” I think I was hired because I had a fine arts degree and was large enough to carry a ladder. I’ve happily stayed in this field because in 50 years, I’ve never been bored.
Fifty years gives you a lot of perspective on the fields of visual merchandising, store design and display. So much has changed while the essence has stayed the same. Essentially, VM is all about the visual experience but over the years, the VM teams have been charged with creating a more memorable and encompassing total shopping experience. Sensory merchandising and experiential retail have added a new dimension to how customers experience and remember a store. It’s not just visual anymore.
A store needs to create a feeling where the customer gets to feel “cool” for shopping there, comfortable, calm, relaxed, or excited and motivated – or a bit of everything. Adding scent, taste, music, movement, something delightfully tactile will each add to the overall positive shopper experience for people of all ages!