Visual Merchandising: Defining Visual Merchandise and Display

Defining Visual Merchandise and Display provides background information and basic terminology needed to build a workable understanding of visual merchandising and the vocabulary needed to understand and differentiate between the various types of merchandising.


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Defining Visual Merchandising and Display Concepts

Visual merchandising is now a major factor impacting the store and brand image, the retail store environment, and the merchandising and marketing of the store. No longer is visual merchandising considered as an extra function that may or may not be important for the success of the retailer. It is now considered as an integral part of the business operations for sustaining a vital retail business.


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Terminology for Visual Merchandising and Display

Display Settings: background or type of setting for presenting merchandise or display


  • Abstract Setting: background setting does not look like a realistic area or concept; the eye cannot decipher a concept but setting supports and reinforces the message and merchandise in the display; e.g., arrangement of lines and shapes in various spaces of the setting to provide a backdrop for merchandise
  • Environmental Setting: all items in display are for sale or background becomes merchandise to sell; e.g., a bedroom display with furniture, home furnishings and textiles, and accessories for a bedroom
  • Fantasy Setting: a setting created with expected or unexpected elements in unexpected places; a whimsical setting or an imaginative or fictitious setting for ordinary merchandise categories; e.g., chair and table on ceiling of display area
  • Realistic Setting: an everyday life environment or recognizable area interpreted in the display; e.g., couple sitting at table in restaurant – display could feature apparel or fine china, crystal, and silver on table or all of the product classifications
  • Semirealistic Setting: vignette setting or setting with recognizable product in a recognizable space but viewer must use imagination to complete the design idea


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