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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Color and The Retail Experience

My week in Nashville, TN for the Carpet One Floor & Home Convention [and Flooring America/Flooring Canada] energized me to no end.

It must have been the hot Gerber Daisy pink Millennium Nouveau carpet [yes, made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber] in our booth. I could feel it infusing me with energy.

Seriously, color makes a difference - in attitude, in conversation, in retail experience.

And, yet, so many are uncomfortable with color - thinking about it, talking about it, even asking questions about it. That came up repeatedly - particularly from several men store owners - in my two Education Day presentations titled "Color Me Beautiful: Let Color Be Your Guide To Sales Success."

Color is at the heart of our consumer's decisions about how to make her home beautiful, fashionable, inspiring, engaging, relaxing and very personal. And, yet, too often the experience we offer our consumer in our stores has nothing to do with that expression of self. Instead, it has all to do about our discomfort with what we can't talk about, and our distrust of fashion. It becomes about us, rather than about her - the woman consumer, our customer. The end result: a sea of uninspiring beige underfoot, and a lukewarm reaction to our retail experience.

That's the funny thing. If we take ourselves - our tastes and preferences - out of the picture, it becomes a whole lot easier. In fact it fits right into a consultative approach to selling, where we ask tons of questions to understand where our customer is coming from.

That includes asking her about color preferences, and letting her talk about what she is looking to achieve in a space. That also means that we become the sounding board rather than the decision maker.

In my presentation, I used the example that Ann Hurley created with our Field Guide To Color forecast. Note on the far right, the four colors? They constitute a palette pulled from this Audubon print.

If your customer has no idea how to proceed, suggest to her [or him], that she select a piece of artwork or even fabric that she really likes. From that inspiration, encourage her to pull 4 or 5 or 6 colors. Those become the basis for the color palette to work from. The most livable color [from your customer's perspective] becomes the foundation color. The rest are accents.

To suggest ideas in your retail store showroom, consider creating vignettes where you similarly pull colors from a print or fabric. Mix and match textures and surfaces. Add some paint swatches, maybe a few accessories.

And, then, change these regularly.

I bet you'll be surprised at the conversations you generate with customers, and at how much easier and more fun color is to incorporate in your retail experience.

On another note, many thanks to Anthony [Tony] Carroll from Martin Carpet One Floor & Home in Denver, PA for saying that Flooring The Consumer is more relevant to him than Seth Godin's Blog. Heady praise, particularly when combined with an energizing hot Gerber Daisy pink Millennium Nouveau carpet!

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