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  2004 May Issue
   
Cover Story
The future of payment in Asia-Pacific
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Other Stories
POP culture - From visual displays to visual identity
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The future of payment in Asia-Pacific
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Refreshing discoveries off the beaten asiles at IHA 2004
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Going organic in Malaysia


 




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TALKING SHOP in Las Vegas

GlobalShop 2004, an annual event covering all aspects of store design and in-store marketing, was staged in a new venue — Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, USA. Prof Martin M Pegler gives his take on the show, held from March 22-24.

It has taken 11 years to build GlobalShop into “a world-class trade show with international resources”. For the first 10 years, this massive annual event, which brings together hundreds of exhibitors, took place at McCormick Place in Chicago, USA. This year, it opened its doors at Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, dubbed by Recommend magazine
as “the hottest selling destination”.(This town has set “the gold standard
for retail design and visual merchandising”with the addition of the newly enlarged Fashion Show Shopping Center.)

GlobalShop is a scaled-down version of Euroshop — the once - in- three-years extravaganza that takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany. Its pavilions feature suppliers that cover all aspects of store design and in-store marketing.

According to the reports handed out by the event’s management, Global- Shop 2004 featured 850 of “the world’s top store fixturing, visual merchandising, retail construction, in-store technology and point-of-purchase (POP) suppliers under one roof”, drawing
about 20,000 visitors from across the US, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Pacific Rim countries.

But, just how was the show this year? Well, it was bigger than last year’s, although I do not think the Sands Expo Center is as attractive, convenient or navigable as McCormick Place. And, I did not find the show easy to do or see.There should have been more and better directional signage, better control of the aisle set-ups and area designations.

Besides, some of the exhibition stands appeared so cheap and tawdry, and with such poor display, that they reflected badly on the entire show.

So what was new and outstanding? Here are some of the highlights as I saw them, and after conferring with people whose opinions I appreciate.

There was the usual dichotomy, a split into two distinct looks: The hightech, industrial, super-sleek 21st-century store fixtures and modular systems, and the newest in electronic and digital technologies standing apart from the old-fashioned, tried-and-true traditional things we have come to rely on.

Among the new, I was especially taken with some of the fixtures and systems — mostly in metal — shown by Vira, Opto, Look, Artitalia, JPMA, Interra and Fleetwood. (To see more of
what these store-fixture/fitting manufacturers, and others to be mentioned later, have to offer, refer to box on page 25 for their website/e-mail addresses.)

Among the pieces that impressed me was Virapoint — a technological advance by Vira. This gesture-recognition programme is a “next-generation control technology [that] enables users to access information displayed on any screen by just pointing at it. The screens
may be CRT, LCD, LED, plasma, rearprojection or standard-projection”.

With Virapoint, “customers can take a virtual tour of stores day or night, preview products and participate in special promotions”. Imagine having Virapoint set up in a display window with a giant screen on the rear wall of the window. By pointing at icons of specific fashions or areas of merchandise, it is possible to have a window filled with changing images and products. This is interactive display.

How is it done? Highly specialized cameras define the field of view where the shopper’s hand enters to control the screen. The hand is reproduced on the screen and acts like a mouse moving the cursor on a laptop or PC.

Vira has also created a new test-drive fixture for Mattel’s miniature cars which is totally “gee whiz!”. Opto and some of the other exhibitors mentioned showed versatile and adaptable systems that could serve a variety of uses in a retail setting while providing a sleek, smart architectural look to the store.

One exhibitor, Look, not only had a great line of products to show but also displayed them in a sharp, stylish allwhite ambience — even the garments used to “explain” the fixtures were white. Look’s area was a blindingly bright, white oasis in an area choking on colour.

ALU, too, displayed the versatility of its products in a super-attractive exhibit booth constructed of ALU’s systems. The company, which presented seven systems, including Acrobat POS and Wall, said its systems “keep evolving towards the centre of the store”,
independent of the perimeter walls.

The Acrobat POS is a suspended modular system that supports visual merchandising without touching the ground. It is high-tech and minimalist. The Wall, which has the ability “to establish the architecture of an area”, is essentially a steel-framed skeleton that can go “floor-to-ceiling and be covered with a skin”. Both systems are especially adaptable to quick turnarounds and physical changes in the store.

In contrast to the above was what I saw as a trend towards ‘softening’: Contrasting
the crisp, hard look with small, soft and gentle decorative touches or accents. The colours throughout the show were softer, gentler and more pastel, appearing in acrylics, plastics, fabrics and even laminates.


CYRO Industries produced acrylic sheets in colours with names such as Pretty in Pink, Berry-Luscious, Juicy Watermelon, Key Lime Pie, Periwinkle and Powder Blue, and Sweet Lavender.

Decoratives — long invisible at GlobalShop — have emerged this year to offer a more gracious look to merchandise presentation. These are not props, but little precious things. Several companies exhibited lovely pieces that could be used to romanticise product presentations, promote a theme or colour story, or complement a trend.

Even companies usually heavily into Christmas decor offered shoppers softer, gentler colour options this year, in addition to the traditional red, green, gold and silver. Readers may want to check out Trimco, Christine Taylor Collection, CAHILL, Creative Concepts, Viaggio and Perspectives.

At Storeworks, the exhibit was spectacular, with superb merchandise presentation.The strong colour trends presented by this producer of small, elegant decorative elements were absolutely great.

Surprisingly, or maybe not — especially with all the attention given to the teens-to-twenties market (even at the seminars during GlobalShop) — this year, like last year, saw a bumper crop of mannequins with attitude. The urban look was in and evident at several
stands. So were hip-hop and the ethnic. Mostly, the urban crowd was stylised, with some almost cartoonish.

However, unlike Euroshop 2002, where we got to compare what was going on in mannequin design, there were too few mannequin houses featured at GlobalShop 2004 to really see the whole picture.

Patina V offered a unique collection of hip-hop teenage mannequins, inspired by the art of David Choe. These were a bit overscaled in the head, which was big and full of attitude. In addition, Patina V had a handsome collection of realistic, semi-realistic and abstract
mannequins, including a pair of larger stylised versions.

At several other stands, ‘big’ and ‘belly’ were prominent. Lifestyle-Apogee, USA, not only showed off its selection of creatively covered and textured forms and torsos in a well-designed and illuminated space but also featured pregnant forms and figures along with a size-18 dressform.

Also proud to be pregnant and showing were the forms at RHO’s booth, which also featured a very interesting collection of‘ordinary people’. These‘ordinary’ forms were not based on idealised shapes and measurements but on the way people are built in reality, with bulging bellies and sagging breasts. RHO’s urban mannequins were more styled than real.

Mondo Mannequins’ forms proferring a selection of styles and looks were also worth
looking at.

Bernstein Display did a great job of presenting its decoratives, fixtures and forms on the show floor in an effective open-yet-closed exhibit; the mannequins clustered up front were noteworthy. Windows mannequins, which were part of the Manex France exhibit, were very good although limited in examples. Windows presentation at Euroshop 2002 was much more impressive.

There were a few booths — mostly open spaces — ‘peopled’ with dozens of white headless forms, figures and torsos that were mostly “seen that before”. There was a sameness to their products and presentations. Obviously, there remains a big market for forms
and torsos, as they are still popular in windows and for in-store displays.

There were some novelties — fresh approaches — but not enough to comment on here.I do think the moulded acrylic forms in pastel colours — illuminated from within — were effective.

I am sure that for someone involved in POP, there had to be some products of interest in the rather untidy and sprawling POP area of GlobalShop. Mostly, one was struck by the sameness of various printed materials (papers,fabrics, plastics, vinyl, etc), the sizes that ranged from gigantic to super-colossal and the crowding of materials into spaces already filled to bursting. How many neon clocks and fibre-optic signs does one need to show to make a point?

However, I found the Epson America stand especially interesting both for its POP potential and adjunct to visual merchandising. Epson demonstrated a complete digital marketing solution, which allows retailers to control the location, timing and content of projected promotional material — all from one central location. The exhibit featured the effects produced by projections onto various surfaces, including clear-plastic panels that served as booth windows.

What was truly fascinating, and could serve as a great display device, was the projection of swimsuits of various styles and graphic patterns onto a white body form. Imagine being able to show a variety of dress designs and patterns on a single white abstract mannequin
by just projecting them onto the figure! Great potential.

I will have more to say about GlobalShop — especially its exhibits and generally about exhibiting at trade shows — in a future article. I hope you will stay tuned for that. For those considering visiting GlobalShop next year, it will be held in Las Vegas; the show returns to Chicago in 2006.

If you have never been to Las Vegas it makes sense to combine a pleasure trip to this make-believe, fantasy town in the desert with business trip to the trade show. Otherwise, I suggest heading for Euroshop 2005 in Dusseldorf next February and then to GlobalShop
2006 in Chicago.


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