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The Art of Attraction: How Visual Art Drives Customer Traffic and Retention

, The Art of Attraction: How Visual Art Drives Customer Traffic and Retention
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Over the last several years, businesses have seen unprecedented shifts in consumer habits. Retail stores moved online and shuttered brick-and-mortar locations, while the hospitality industry was ransacked by the restrictions triggered by the pandemic. 

Thankfully, human behaviors ebb and flow, and more recent trends suggest that good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar is making a comeback – and that’s terrific news for retailers and independent businesses. And, despite the convenience of online shopping, studies suggest that consumers actually prefer browsing in stores. In fact, 90% of consumers recently indicated that they prefer not to buy online.

So what does this mean for business owners?

With data showing that people prefer in-person experiences, it’s important to think about how to optimize a space for the ultimate customer experience – and that includes making a strong visual statement. Choosing great art is, ultimately, so much more than an opportunity for businesses to communicate their unique identity. It’s also an opportunity to create a warm, inviting, and interactive environment, encouraging patrons to choose your establishment over the competition and linger. And that invariably means more customer transactions.

In a cutthroat market, there are two major objectives that every business must consider: how to attract customers and, perhaps even more importantly, how to retain them. And we guarantee that investing in art is one of the strongest ways to create a distinctive experience that will enrich your business while boosting sales.

Art in Retail

Unless your business’s aesthetic leans into the hyper-minimalistic (a trend that, unsurprisingly, works for others but not for us!), you’ll want to heighten the customer experience by breaking up the monotony on your walls. This simple touch, at first glance, creates beauty and a more welcoming atmosphere. But incredibly, selecting great artwork is so much more impactful than that.

With such fierce competition, it’s critical that even the smallest mom-and-pop create a striking identity that attracts customers and encourages loyalty – and a thoughtful curatorial touch is the perfect way to make such a statement. By creating a welcoming environment that also forges an emotional connection, you’ll immediately garner consumer attention and make customers feel special in the process. Every single one of us has to shop every once in a while. So why not make it a more uplifting and positive experience?

Incredibly, investing in art for your business plays an important subconscious role, as well. By creating a unique visual experience, you’re turning your space into a landmark while distinguishing different areas of your store. Imagine it: you own a chic boutique with a focus on women’s shoes. An elegant floral mural outside creates a gripping statement and encourages people to stop in. And once inside, there are other artful touches: colorful abstracts that guide you through the space without distracting from the merchandise, perhaps a flashy neon sign in the changing area that elevates the mood and makes the customer feel special (perhaps they’ll even share a cute snap on social media). Invariably, you’ve increased your chances at a sale, and even if not, your thoughtful customer service and attention to detail will surely have made an excellent impression. 

, The Art of Attraction: How Visual Art Drives Customer Traffic and Retention
Quinn Briceño’s incredible 27 x 9-foot mural for Neiman Marcus St. Louis is a perfect example of art celebrating community while elevating a space.

Art in Hospitality

While we’ll always have a soft spot for a good old-fashioned diner (an aesthetic that, incredibly, is replicated in its own right), most of us decide where to spend our time based on its unique atmosphere. Competition is cutthroat, and the reality is that unless your business invests in creating a space that makes visitors feel welcome and special, it will not thrive – even if your offerings and customer service are second to none.

And the more your customers anticipate spending, the more you need to invest. An elite hospitality experience requires an unparalleled aesthetic, which means that great art is integral to creating a memorable dinner or hotel stay. 

Another way that art levels up your business? By leaning into a sense of community. “Authenticity” and “community” are huge buzzwords these days, and for a good reason: as the market becomes increasingly saturated, consumers are more interested in spending time in places that actively support and celebrate the local culture. Businesses can become active participants in building something bigger than themselves, which opens up the narrative and invites people to participate – and that means more customers.

It’s also smart to remember that fabulous art and atmosphere create a bigger story and one that your customers will be eager to share. Consider the potential for an organic marketing opportunity: if visitors are swooning over the experience you’ve facilitated, there’s an excellent chance that they’ll share on social media, generating a buzz and encouraging others to go. Word of mouth is a powerful tool: leverage it by creating a space that people can get excited about.

, The Art of Attraction: How Visual Art Drives Customer Traffic and Retention
Tucked away in a hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Bemelman’s is named after the illustrator that created the cherished murals.

Real World Examples

We can wax poetic about the importance and value of art – it’s the foundation of what we’re passionate about – but let’s back it up with a relevant case study., our latest commercial division, was thrilled to be tapped by Neiman Marcus to activate nationwide retail locations with bespoke commissions by renowned local artists. Creating heartfelt tributes to their local communities, the company was able to successfully hit upon multiple points: being upstanding participants in the local culture while creating something heartfelt and beautiful that creates a sense of warmth, encouraging customers to take their time and relax in-store. “This exclusive mural illustrates our mission of “Leading with Love,” as it tells the story of two people making true connections with one another. At Neiman Marcus, we lead with love through the relationships we develop,” shares Renee Janovsky, Market General Manager of the Troy and St. Louis stores. Indeed, this important message is one that uplifts and empowers, but it also plays an important role in helping the business stand apart from the competition. And establishments that make you feel good will always be your first stop.

At the end of the day, great art is more than just a pretty picture: it’s an integral part of establishing a desirable identity, supporting community, creating memorable moments, and, ultimately, enhancing sales. Driving customer traffic and retaining those same customers are critical to your future success. What sort of vision will you create?

About the author

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly attended Syracuse University and majored in French Literature, which inspired her to start her first blog, FauxFrench. She has worked as an illustration agent at Morgan Gaynin Inc., a premiere boutique agency in New York, as well as written for commercial and marketing assignments, conducted historical and academic research, journalism, and education

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