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David Squires

Take the First Step To a Luxury Image



Supermarkets like Whole Foods go to great lengths to give the appearance of freshness. The picturesque crates stacked throughout the store (as though cracked open with a crowbar just that morning), the hand-written messages on chalkboards as though pricing is being calculated spontaneously based what came in that day, and the ice, all that ice, ice everywhere you turn.

Says author Martin Lindstrom, who writes about Whole Foods in his 2011 best-selling business book Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy: “Have you ever noticed that there’s ice everywhere in this shop? Why? Does hummus really need to be kept ice-cold? What about cucumber-and-yogurt dip? No and no. This ice is another ‘symbolic’ – an unconscious suggestion that what’s before us is bursting with freshness.”

&#8220 To improve your marketing,
start to use what Lindstrom
calls &#8216symbolics.&#8217 &#8221

That suggestion is important. But the reality is often different. In fact, Lindstrom’s research shows that the average apple we see in a supermarket is actually 14 months old. Not exactly bursting with freshness.

To improve your marketing, start to use what Lindstrom calls “symbolics”. For instance, let’s say you’re looking to create the appearance of luxury in your store. (And let’s say that quintupling your area, putting down marble flooring, and installing the gardens of Versailles in your parking lot are not on the agenda.)


To create a more luxurious appearance, take one case and de-clutter. Put in a small collection of products, giving every product a lot of space. Remember, the essential rule of display is space equals luxury. You can go further by creating a vignette around the items using luxury symbols. Maybe your theme is “wedding in France”. Put in an Eiffel Tower statue, a few fake snapshots of a bride and groom in French-like surroundings, a couple of wine glasses, fake plane tickets.

Play French music in your store, serve a little wine. There you go, your own little luxury experience. Try it for one month.

You can start brainstorming more luxury vignettes on your own. Or, even better, come brainstorm with all of us and Martin Lindstrom himself at The SMART Show Chicago, coming April 13-15. Martin will be part of the show’s “Masters of Marketing” series, which will also feature Carley Roney of The Knot, Lauren Freedman, and Jim Ackerman.

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