Top Tips -- The art of illusion

Paul Pleydell, director of Pleydell Smithyman Garden Centre Design & Business Consultants, says: "Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore some of the bold and eyebrow-raising stunts of TV's illusionist Derren Brown.

"I caught part of a recent show in which he manipulated a young female victim into selecting a giraffe soft toy from over 25,000 toys in Hamleys, the famous London toy emporium. The shocking part was that he didn't use hypnosis, trickery or witchcraft. It was done by manipulating the retail environment - using strategically placed giraffe toys, imagery and patterns on walls and staircases that all went unnoticed - a baffling and impressive stunt (assuming it was done on the first take).

"This technique of subtle and sublime influence, without a person realising, is evidently called PWA - 'perception without awareness' - and I'm convinced that it could soon become part of our retail 'tool kit' to maximise sales in garden centres. You can start to imagine subtly placed images, graphics and products that 'lead' towards a desired product or department.

"At this time of year, garden centres also turn to illusion in a bold, glitzy and often expensive way, with large areas dressed and ready for the period of frenzied consumption also known as Christmas. When I was a boy Christmas lasted just one day - now look at it. Derren Brown would perhaps call this perception with awareness, because in every garden centre you cannot fail to see the displays and get the message - 'buy our Christmas products'.

"But what happens after Christmas? Do we all invest the same time and energy into all of our other product departments? Perhaps we should all become illusionists, turning the gardening department into a garden, the bulb area into a Dutch market or just using lighting, colour, sounds and aromas to enhance the retail experience with the objective of increasing sales.

"Creating individual solutions, our team uses a range of retail techniques to increase customer spend, turnover and profit. How soon will PWA and the fine art of illusion become just another technique?

"Enjoy Christmas and join me next time to explore how anxiety can affect your retail success."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Garden centre building: what's going up?

Garden centre building: what's going up?

After a lull in new builds, 2018 could see a slight resurgence in garden centres being erected.

Retail seed: crowded market for 2018

Retail seed: crowded market for 2018

Thompson & Morgan is refocusing on the garden centre seed market, hoping to win back business from Mr Fothergill's, which has expanded during T&M's long sale process.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses

Walls, trellises, pergolas and even trees can all be brightened up by these beautiful blooms, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. 

Garden Centre Prices

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles

Neville Stein

Business advice from Neville Stein, MD of business consultancy Ovation

Read latest articles