Building brand image is not just window dressing
As an international shopping destination, Hong Kong boasts some of the world's most creative and eye-catching window displays. Credit goes to visual merchandisers who combine art and commerce to please the eye and fill the till.
Vincent Chong, a visual merchandising manager for an international fashion label, says brands are becoming more aware of the importance of properly presenting their products and building an image.
"In Hong Kong, the fashion industry is the largest client for visual merchandising, followed by furniture stores," he says.
Visual merchandisers must present a company's products to match the image of the brand while impressing customers.
"The colour tone, lighting, music, the staff uniform - all these contribute to building the image for the brand and attracting consumers. The visual merchandiser is also in-charge of training staff to properly display the products," Chong says.
Hong Kong universities do not offer courses specialising in visual merchandising, but those with a background in fine arts and graphic design are generally eligible to enter the industry.
The Asia Society of Visual Merchandisers, established in 2003, has more than 1,500 members in Hong Kong and offers a one-year, part-time advanced diploma course at a cost of about HK$20,000.
"Newcomers usually come in as assistant visual merchandiser and can expect a starting monthly pay of HK$8,000.
"After two years, the assistant can move up to being a visual merchandiser, followed by senior visual merchandiser and then visual merchandise supervisor or manager," Chong says. The managerial position requires at least eight years' experience with pay of more than HK$20,000.
As brands continue to expand globally, the sector is booming.
"Visual merchandising is just beginning on the mainland as consumers' demand for high quality and branded products continues to rise. Hong Kong still has the advantage, but the gap is getting narrower as visual merchandisers on the mainland are catching up quickly," Chong says.
What it takes
- An eye for beauty
- Clean, tidy and well-organised
- Meticulous and detail-oriented
- Can draw by hand or with PC