Tips and Trends

Apply Retail Design Best Practices to Showcase Products in Your Trade Show Exhibit

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Does your trade show exhibit showcase your products in a way that entices and connects with your customers? If not, you may want to look to retail merchandising for inspiration.

Think of a retail environment you enjoy shopping in—and then compare it to another store you enjoy less, that sells similar items. Chances are that one of the differences between the two stores is display design.

The store you prefer may be better lit. Or be easier to navigate. Or do a better job positioning the products in an aspirational way. It may even just be the ambiance—the look and feel of the store speaks to you.

Product display design makes a big difference in how customers perceive a brand—and in how likely prospective customers are to locate the products that interest them. The best retailers have elevated this practice to an art form—an art form that is easily adapted to your trade show booth design.

Here are eight retail practices our 3D Exhibits designers have integrated into trade show booth designs for our customers:


1. Create mood provoking backdrops. Use colors and textures that create a mood that aligns with your brand as a vibrant backdrop that stops attendees in the aisle and leads them to your product display. Just don’t make your backdrop design too busy or it will distract from—or worse, overpower—your product.

2. Integrate scene pieces and props. Invoke aspiration by accenting your displays with objects and props that speak to the environment where your product is used. This can be anything from trees and shrubs to a vintage stove to a laboratory setting.

3. Protect your sight lines. Attendees need to be able to scan your booth quickly to get a feel for your overall product line—and then zoom in on the offerings that interest them. Walls and solid structures located in the middle of your exhibit impede this process. If you choose to use the middle of your booth for a display, keep it light and airy so attendees can still see beyond it to understand that you have additional products on display on the opposite side of your exhibit. You can achieve this either by keeping your displays low so attendees can see over them, or by using open shelving that attendees can see through.


4. Light it up. Retailers glamorize their wares with strategic lighting: Illumination is focused on the products or props—and not on the aisles. This draws customers’ attention right where they want it. The same techniques work on the trade show floor. Consider spot-lighting products and/or halo-lighting the bases of your display fixtures.

5. Clean layout. Have you ever noticed that higher priced retailers actually have fewer items and fixtures in their stores? Elevate the perceived value of your brand and products by eliminating clutter and minimizing the number and sizes of properties and fixtures in the booth.

6. Add a human element. Help attendees visualize their customers or company using your product by showing mannequins or real humans wearing or using the product.


7. Add interest with a variety of levels. Add visual interest by varying the height level of your product displays (even jewelers elevate some of the items in their display cases). Or think in terms of groupings where several product samples are displayed together in a well-laid out scheme.

8. Vary your finishes. A little juxtaposition adds a lot of depth and interest to an exhibit environment. Try accenting warm tones with cool tones, wood finishes with solid-tone walls, smooth surfaces with textured elements, curves with angles—even light with dark.

What retail design techniques do you integrate into your trade show exhibit design? Send us a photo. We’d love to see.


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