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The December holidays are the perfect time for retailers to surprise the audience. But at the same time the amount of stimuli the (shopping) audience gets is enormous. Stores are increasingly going to extremes to attract the attention from the audience and to pull them into the store. Here you will read three inspiring examples of stores that optimally exploit Christmas. 


First of all, supermarkets stand out this Christmas. Many chains extent their opening hours and are open for the shopping audience during Christmas. In the weeks prior to Christmas the different supermarkets are fighting for attention, with different special offers. Jumbo for example organizes a ‘Late Night Shopping’, where employees present the special Christmas assortment during an extra pleasant evening. Visitors get to taste and receive special discounts while they are being entertained with live music. Goal is to inspire the shopper with menu ideas for the holidays. Competitor Plus takes another approach. Their whole Christmas campaign is based around raclette (typical Dutch dining at Christmas) and Plus hits the streets with their raclette truck.

As you may expect from the biggest supermarket in the Netherlands, Albert Heijn takes it to the next level. They organize a nostalgic Christmas festival at the Railway Museum in Utrecht. Visitors find themselves indulged in Christmas and get tips from the chefs of Allerhande and sample snacks at 70 different stalls. AH does everything to impress visually, with festive decorations that combine the feeling of traditional Christmas markets with that of the popular foodfestivals. There is a ‘Winter Wonderland’ with a Wishing Tree for the kids, a winter barbeque, Christmas stalls and live music. Including an ice rink to top it off! Saskia Egas Reparaz, director marketing and format at Albert Heijn: “Christmas is an old feast with different traditions and habits in each family. We have been celebrating Christmas with our customers for 128 years. Each year we help them with new ideas, inspiration and many special Christmas products. This year we would like to offer our customers something else with the Allerhande Christmas Festival. It is going to be the tastiest inspiration event for the Holidays.” As cherry on the pie Albert Heijn adds digital channels to the campaign, that complete the Omni channel-strategy: customers can ask for help during cooking via a WhatsApp service.


In November, not by coincidence right before the holiday season, The Bijenkorf Amsterdam also opened their new beauty department: ‘Beauty of the World’. On about 1.200 square meters visitors find the most diverse and luxurious beauty products, with personal service as their point of sale. De department has 25 counters, there is a treatment area and 200 specialists are available to give advice to customers. Extra effort has especially been put in the visual communication at this renewed department. The look and feel of ‘Beauty World’ has changed drastically compared to what the department used to look like. In the storefronts and showcases luxury materials like marble and glass are used. This gives a light and open feeling to the parterre. All brands were given the task to design new display materials, that were placed instead of the old showcases. Striking, as usually these brands are allowed to work with their own corporate identity. In this particular matter The Bijenkorf chooses consistency in appearance. “People do not just want to buy products anymore”, says Selina Johnston, head of cosmetic procurement at The Bijenkorf. “Visitors want to be entertained”.


Clothing retailer OPEN32 is working hard to break new grounds. Starting as a small boutique in Arnhem in the seventies, the retailer now has 62 stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. And counting. Recently new stores opened in Uden, Alpen aan den Rijn and Breda. There they are testing a new store concept with the associated new visual decorations. Being able to respond quickly to the seasons with campaigns, like Christmas, it’s an important part of the new strategy to create experience and service for the clothing shopper.

In the visual communication of these three stores it is all about the combination of a large amount of different and innovative display materials. Among others, adhesive magnets, Visual Magnetics and Visual Magnetics Chalkboard are deployed. All visual materials are very user-friendly and flexible to adjust, to ensure that staff members can change the store into a Christmas setting in no time. Think of ‘wintery’ or Christmas-related messages on chalkboards, or changeable visuals on the walls or ceilings with ready to wear photography with the winter and holiday season collection on display. This inspires the visitor on how to combine different clothing pieces and what occasions to wear it to.

Do you know more of these inspiring Christmas experiences? Please share them! In the meantime I would like to wish you happy holidays and a visually impressive 2016.

Niels van Straaten



"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."

Joshua J. Marine