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The Leap Guide to Creating Unforgettable Holiday Window Displays

December 13, 2021
The Leap Guide to Creating Unforgettable Holiday Window Displays

The holidays are window shopping season. November through December is when brands work their hardest to attract customers off the street and buy some gifts for their loved ones. While famous department stores are renowned for going above and beyond to create eye-catching window displays, almost every brand is trying to draw shoppers in with attractive arrangements and seasonal decorations.

Taking a successful approach to visual merchandising—which window and store displays fall under—requires more than just a pretty picture. It has to fit into your overall merchandising strategy. The bottom line is that these efforts need to convert passersby into loyal customers. If they don’t, it won’t matter how good they look. We’ve collected a full list of tips and suggestions to improve your visual merchandising this season, along with firsthand examples from our brands that bring these principles to life. 

1. Lead with the right products

The products in your window should be your “hero” pieces. These are the high-demand, eye-catching SKUs that draw customers to come in and see for themselves. This includes things like outerwear, high-end appliances, knitwear, and luxurious accessories. These don’t have to be your most expensive items, but it helps if they’re the most eye-catching.

Your goal is to create a display that captures your audiences’ wants and desires. When they see it, it should help them imagine wearing or using your products aspirationally.

Something Navy’s window displays two signature colorful overcoats—very much needed this time of year—and draws in the eye by color-coordinating with their fun winter hats. It effectively communicates their brand’s style and personality while feeling inviting and seasonally appropriate.

Something Navy West Village

2. Understand your customer 

The better you know your shoppers, the easier it is to create a window display that’s going to grab them off the sidewalk. This starts with knowing basic demographics like age, gender, and income. A good practice is to read through the shopper information in your POS online and in-store. Leap creates dashboards based on this info to make it easily digestible, so all stakeholders and staff know exactly who they’re selling to.

However, this information only tells half the story. You also need a firsthand, qualitative understanding of who your customers are as people. The only way to do that is by connecting with them in-person—which is a massive advantage for brick-and-mortar stores vs ecommerce.    As you better understand the psychographic profile of your customer, you can have deeper insight into their lifestyle and what drives their buying decisions. 

Little Words Project is a great example of this. The colors and style of their display suits their target audience (women of all ages) and does a good job of representing their product while being engaging and branded. The picture on their left wall depicts their target customer as well, giving shoppers the confirmation that this is the store for them.


Little Words Project West Village



3. Don’t be afraid to stand out

How much time do you think it takes for your customer to walk past your window display? Five seconds, three seconds, maybe even less? Unless your store takes up an entire city block, it’s unlikely you have much time to capture shoppers’ attention. That’s why your display needs to be attention-grabbing. 

First, the basics. Use appealing branded colors, set up ample and effective lighting, pick your most standout products, and use a balanced arrangement that puts your product at a variety of different heights. However, the best window displays include something that will give shoppers pause and make them investigate further. That could be a creative layout that tells a story, or just something that stands out from the rest.

Take Luli Fama’s example below. While the brand is no stranger to setting themselves apart with window displays, for the holidays they’ve gone above and beyond with fun sparkly Santa hats for the mannequins in their windows. A fun detail like this is just enough to get passersby to stop for a moment on their commute and give the brand more consideration than usual. 

Luli Fama Merrick Park


4. Focus on your brand and product

While your window display needs to make an impression, it also needs to reflect your brand in an authentic way. If it doesn’t, it won’t lead to any increase in sales, no matter how many potential shoppers it stops in their tracks.

Consider your brand’s personality before you start designing your display. Is it fun and playful, rugged and outdoorsy, or classic and understated? That should inform your aesthetic. And while it’s good to stand out, sometimes the best way to do that is to let your product speak for itself. Sometimes an elaborate tableau is no replacement for a subtle and straightforward display. 

Take a look at this window display from Ring Concierge. With just a subtle framing of gold ornaments, it complements the jewelry on display without overpowering it. A more complex display would mean the product would be totally lost. It also perfectly matches the brand’s subdued and classy style. 

Ring Concierge West Village


5. Inspire emotion

Humans are emotional creatures, and our emotions dictate our buying decisions, even more so than marketing and advertising's contents. This can be your secret weapon for creating an effective window display this holiday season. If you can inspire just a little bit of wonder, excitement, nostalgia, or curiosity with your work, then your chances of bringing in shoppers off the street are that much higher.

To succeed, you’ll need to account for all of the advice above, while also leveraging your own creativity. Maybe even tap into your own experiences of the holiday season—opening presents, walking in the snow, large family gatherings—and channel that into a unique and emotionally engaging piece of visual merchandising.

NAADAM offers a great example below. Their cute cashmere goats are dressed for the holidays, as is the stuffed sheep in the window. These whimsical touches capture the spirit of the season and add a sense of humor that lines up exactly with the rest of the brand’s marketing.  

NAADAM West Village

Follow these tips, and you’ll be that much closer to a standout Holiday display yourself. There’s no shortage of amazing window displays out there, so keep your eyes peeled for inspiration. And once you’ve created your window display, don’t forget that you likely have a great deal of repeat walk-by traffic. Update your display often to avoid getting lost amid the constantly changing storefronts.

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