Claudia Cafarelli’s Global Fashion Marketing class in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business put their lessons about visual merchandising to work at the Hofstra University Bookstore, creating displays to boost sales during 2019 Fall Festival weekend.
Students studied marketing concepts and conducted market research, before devising six consumer personas based on Fall Fest target audiences. Students were assigned at random to groups of six or seven so they could experience working with unfamiliar team members from different states and countries, a scenario similar to what they would encounter in a professional environment. The exercise helped them develop sharper cultural awareness, and learn how to overcome challenges in the workplace.
Buyer personas are research-based fictional representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions. Student groups identified and defined six possible consumers who would attend Fall Fest:
- “Alex” – the freshman
- “Timmy” – the Hofstra student’s younger sibling
- “Sam” – the genderless resident student
- “Nancy” – the student’s mom
- “Alex” – the alumni
- “Andrea” – the international student
After developing these personas, students created windows displays to appeal to each. They created mood boards, collages consisting of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition. Students learned the importance of compliance with Hofstra University’s brand guidelines as is necessary in licensing arrangements. Each group used their mood board as a guideline to design their window display during a site visit to the campus store.
Before Fall Fest, the groups met at the campus store to select a display location, collect merchandise, and design the windows. After the event, campus bookstore General Merchandise Manager Darlene Leininger shared year-over-year sales results for items featured in the displays. Of particular note was increased sales in glassware displayed in the “Alex” Alumni window and size small windbreakers featured in the “Timmy” younger sibling display.
Witnessing increased sales performances, students learned how effective their methods and efforts were. The students came away from this learning experience with new skills to apply to their current jobs or future careers. The visual merchandising assignment also inspired students to explore their own creativity while providing them with insight into the operations of the retail industry, specifically collegiate apparel, merchandise, and gifts.
In addition, the “Andrea” group determined that he/she would want to return home wearing apparel that prominently displayed his/her studies in New York. Classmates agreed that the geographic location of Hofstra on Long Island is an appealing design element that should appear on apparel and accessories. Leininger shared the design with Champion Sportswear which was inspired by the idea to create a New York themed collection to start selling in the spring.
Nadi Chan, Marketing, ’20, contributed to this report.