Virtual Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's

I know, it's been awhile since I delved into stock film photos to review retail store locations. I have so many projects underway that blogging is taking a back seat. While I am otherwise engaged, may I offer a small appetizer to tide you over?!

'Breakfast at Tiffany's
' is a classic film released in 1961, and is arguably the first one everyone mentions when I refer to 'retail stores in films'. It was adapted from a book by Truman Capote, and stars George Peppard and the always charming Audrey Hepburn (even though Capote wrote it for Marilyn Monroe to star in). We've all seen the screenshot of Audrey, as character Holly Golightly, standing on the sidewalk in the early morning hours after a night of 'working'. She's eating a danish, holding a paper coffee cup, and gazing longingly into the windows of the famed Tiffany & Co. jeweler's New York store - which is located at 727 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street in New York City, by the way. She dreams while staring at the glistening merchandise, her longing evident in her expression. (Don't we all wish we looked that good while window shopping?!)

Retail tip number one: Windows are the eyes to your store. What do they reflect? When customers step out of a cab or car, with or without danish & coffee in hand, and they look into your windows, do they stop? Do they gaze longingly? Do they dream of owning what they see? Does it call out to them 'Notice me!' (I do not mean scream. Effective displays never scream. They call, invitingly, like a siren's song, luring customers.) Is there light? Sparkle? Color? Interest? Is it clear what your product is?

Or, in some cases, is it clear what you are selling - the sizzle not the steak, so to speak. As in, 'It's not the clothes, it's the confidence that they inspire'. You know that philosophy. So did Holly. She's not longing for the diamonds per se - but the lifestyle and sense of accomplishment and worth that they stand for. She identifies with the image that the store presents. Here's what she said about that:

"I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is, but I know what it's like. It's like Tiffany's."

"When I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump into a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away."

"If I could find a real life place to make me feel like Tiffany's, then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name."
-Holly Golightly

Do your customers aspire to live a lifestyle 'as seen in your store'? Are you inspiring them? Are you helping them to create, enjoy, improve, and enhance their lives? If you have ever heard the comment 'Oh, I could just LIVE here in your store!' , you're doing it right!

In a publicity shot for the film, Audrey is Breakfasting at Tiffany's as Holly Golightly, enjoying the luxury and excess of the lifestyle she longs for. There are a few key merchandising tips you can see in this photo:

That tablecloth next to Audrey? Note the color. Tiffany Blue. Signature color. Brand Image. There is no sign visible anywhere in this photo, yet because of that color and the jewelry, we know it is located at Tiffany & Co. This is what a brand image can do for your business, dear friends. Consistency in your visual presentation - using the same colors, fonts, taglines, style - will help your customers recognize your business in an instant.

Another note about color tips: the black tablecloths used on the other tables in this photo serve to make them stay in the background - our attention is focused directly on Audrey and that blue tablecloth in the foreground. This practice is called 'color spotting' and it is basically the science of using color to lead the customer's eye exactly where you want it to go. If there was a blue drape in the background, or a blue box on the counter, your eye would go there second. You can run a 'ribbon' of color from your windows through your store displays to your cashwrap, to make your customer move from place to place exactly as you want them to. Never fails!

Another tip: Simplicity when appropriate. The primary product of this business, jewelry, is small. It is delicate, and made up of many tiny details. Keeping everything else simple and subdued makes the jewelry stand out. Crisp lighting highlights the bling factor. Simple dark wood cases contrast with the bright shining metallic & jewel surfaces. Black velvet lining the cases serves the same purpose - when you look there, all you see is the sparkling jewelry. Don't over-prop or over-arrange small, delicate items. Let them stand out, so that all of the details can be noticed and appreciated.

Final tip: Attainable Status. HUH? I just pulled that phrase out of thin air. But what I mean by it is this: offer your customers (and potential customers) the ability to take a bit of the fantasy home with them. Create an experience, develop an image, position yourself in the marketplace. And if you are very high end - like Tiffany & Co. - don't apologize for that. Even in a 'recession'. Be proud of the quality you offer, of the excellence. Of the prestige, even. And then, make it possible for any person who walks in your store to take that home with them.

In the film, Paul and Holly go shopping at Tiffany's. They look at all of the wonderful offerings, both within and outside of their means, do some dreaming, and decide to have a Crackerjack ring engraved. It costs them ten dollars. They left the store with a Tiffany experience - for ten bucks. Holly was beaming. What can you offer your customers for ten bucks, or twenty bucks or five bucks, that exemplifies the experience, image, and prestige of your store? How can even customers on a strict budget share in what you are offering? Perhaps you can offer a votive candle version of your signature scent, in addition to a larger pillar size? How can you serve more customers, making them raving fans of your business who will spread the word about you? Oftentimes, it is a small thing that wins people over. When they need your product or service, they'll remember you, and you'll get their business. (Offering free retail tips on a blog serves the same purpose....wink)

Well my friends, that's the end of the appetizer course. I hope this post has sated your appetites for a bit... if not, may I suggest a danish and a cup of coffee?!

Image Credits: Property of Paramount Pictures, found on Google Image search at
Buy the film here.

1 comment:

  1. I just LOVE Audrey Hepburn! Thanks for the appetizer :)