7 In-Store Marketing and Retail Design Trends for 2024

Seven in-store marketing and retail design trends to watch, plus our exclusive behind-the-curtain insights on bringing them to life—at scale and on budget

2024 Trends for In-store Marketing and Retail Design

Does it seem like grabbing and keeping customer attention becomes more important—and more difficult—every year?

Smart brands know: Your in-store marketing and store design can be the magic ingredient that turns browsers into buyers and buyers into loyal brand advocates. And lately, visuals are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to incorporate attention-grabbing features that make a lasting impression.

But how can you take a “wow” trend and scale it to hundreds—even thousands—of stores?

At Imagine, we’re possibility engineers. We lead the trends and bring them to incredible, jaw-dropping life… while also scaling these incredible ideas across thousands of locations in ways that make sense for the brand, the budget, and the location.

So we tapped the creative minds at Imagine Studio to give you the big picture on the key trends for in-store marketing and retail design in 2024 and why they matter. We then turned to our production pros to share real-world knowledge on how you can harness the impact of these trends at scale, no matter your budget or space.

A store is not just a store anymore. Gone are the days when a store was just a place to put product on shelves and hope it sells. Now, retailers need to consider store design, marketing, understanding the customer, and how they transition from online to in-store before making a purchase.

The battle between brands for customer attention is intensifying, so being intentional and purposeful is key.

Robert Grimmett
SVP, Executive Creative Director at Imagine

Retail design trend 1: Texture and Patterns to add visual interest and depth

Trend 1: Textures & Patterns

Strike just the right chord with your audience by tapping something as simple as textures or patterns.

Tried and true, they can add visual interest and depth to a space, drawing the eye where you want it to go and pulling shoppers to your display instead of your competition.

Choose materials and patterns that support the feel you want your brand to evoke.

  • Is it sleek and futuristic? Smooth surfaces like marble and steel create that feel.
  • Want to create a rugged aesthetic? Opt for rough, weathered wood.
  • Trying to get shoppers to cancel their plans and get cozy in your store for the evening? Faux fur, luxe velvet and thick knits are your best friend.

Patterns are also important ingredients in achieving the right ambiance. The key is to be conscious about exactly what mood you want to evoke, and then to select patterns that bring that mood to mind.

Floral prints can suggest sweetness, freshness, and a commitment to the environment. Conservative prints like a simple stripe or small dotted pattern set a classic mood while still providing visual interest. A rich, dark paisley or tartan can evoke old-world splendor and luxury.

And if you want “wild,” “bold,” and “daring” to be the impression you make, you can’t go wrong with animal prints.

Mixing patterns? Why not?!

When in doubt, a good approach is to make sure both patterns share a color, and to mix larger patterns with smaller ones.

The good news? All these textural aesthetics can be achieved through printed materials—which can be a huge budget saver.

You may not be able to afford real barnboard in every store, but you could probably afford a light material printed with the appearance of barnboard… or marble… or tree trunks. (You get the idea!)

When incorporating textures and patterns into your shopper marketing, strategy is the name of the game. Too many textured pieces in a small space can overwhelm.

So if you want to play with this look, consider a simple or even monochromatic color palette. And a large pattern could look great on a huge wall but will completely overwhelm a small poster.

Select items that make sense for your space and, when in doubt, opt for less over more.

How to approach this trend

Remember your environment. If your signage is going to hang 10 feet up in the air, you’ll need to give the appearance of texture without the benefit of customers touching it.

Consider your scale: Ornate, involved displays that take lots of manpower to install could work at three or four locations, but not 3,000. A good in-store display partner can help you design elements that are easier to scale across many locations.

Are you making one of these or are you making 100,000? Because if you're making 100,000 of them, how we may make one all of a sudden becomes totally impractical—from a cost standpoint, assembling things, and so on. But we have ways to make it work, regardless of the scale. We just need to get creative.

Mark Popp
VP, Technology, Research, and Development at Imagine

Think about shipping: A design element might look cool… but could be expensive and difficult to ship. For example, if you wanted a 3D installation using a series of tubes, it would be much more economical to install the original in a flagship store and then have high-quality printed images of the installation made, using printing techniques that emphasize the visual depth of the design. The printed displays would still provide the textural look, while being less expensive to ship and much easier for store associates to install.

Factor in labor. Speaking of installation, assembling a display can be expensive—sometimes costing as much as the design and materials. Choosing elements that can be partially or completely assembled before being shipped to your stores can help drive down those costs.

Store Design trend 2: Layers create a 3D look

Trend 2: Layers

Want to create visual interest that makes your display stand out? Experiment with layering.

Most displays tend to be two-dimensional, so consider interrupting a sea of sameness and creating a more 3D look. Layering elements on top of each other is a great way to break up the monotony and grab attention.

You can also think of every element in a display as a layer.

If you’re designing a furniture display, for example, you wouldn’t stick a sofa against a stark white wall and call it a day. Adding a rug, a throw pillow, a blanket, and a side table to the space automatically adds visual interest, making the display more eye-catching.

Each of those elements acts as a layer, playing an important role in the overall feel of the space.

Instead of a one-dimensional display or poster, try adding a layer or two—or more! This works great for window displays. The depth and richness of layering can add real drama or interest.

Achieve this look with window clings, hanging signs, free-standing objects, and so on. The impact can be incredible!

How to approach this trend

Create depth. Vary the shapes and sizes of your layers to create depth in your display. Eyes are drawn to differences.

Opt for lightweight items. Adding items on top of each other creates weight, which can make shipping and installation charges add up. Stacks made of foam or paper are much less costly than layers of wood or stone.

Layering is really effective and easy to do—we do it all the time. The pieces can be interlocking, or they can be held together with adhesives.

At Imagine, we can create pretty much any configuration you can dream of. We have very large equipment, so it isn't difficult to create layering of materials of different sizes and shapes.

Mark Popp
VP, Technology, Research, and Development

Consider Illusions. Not only are printed illusions a cheaper alternative to layering heavy objects, they’re also a better option for displays you don’t want shoppers to touch. And because printed fabric or cardboard is so lightweight, you’ll save on shipping and installation without sacrificing the wow factor.

Coordinate your kitting: Order smaller print marketing pieces that complement the larger décor/display pieces you already have—when everything is assembled on-site, it works together to create a layered look, without having to pay for shipping and installation for the entire display.

Retail Design Trend 3: Organic Shapes create a softer visual for in-store displays

Trend 3: Organic Shapes

Rectangles and squares are great, but this trend is all about creating a softer, more organic shape in your displays.

Instead of sharp lines and angles, think curves, swoops, waves, circular elements, and other shapes you might find by looking in nature. Organic shapes can also be an unexpected way to stand out in a store, while also tapping into your buyer’s emotions.

After all, your imagination is organic too, so feel free to let it run completely wild and make up showstopping shapes that transport shoppers into another world.

Your displays can strengthen—or sink—your brand

Well-designed displays can do more than influence emotions. They can also communicate your brand values to like-minded shoppers.

Your expertise in retail extends beyond mere product presentation. Thoughtfully crafted displays not only impact emotions but also serve as a powerful means to convey your brand's essence to discerning shoppers.

Achieving a seamless alignment of values across your brand is crucial for fostering understanding, belief, and active engagement in the brand narrative.

Robert Grimmett
SVP, Executive Creative Director

How to approach this trend

To create organic shapes at scale, you need to think about lightweight, cost-effective materials that can either be bent into unique shapes or printed on to give the illusion of those shapes.

That route will cut down on assembly and shipping costs and be less expensive to print.

For example, your key locations could have a gorgeously crafted three-dimensional tree. Your other 3,000 locations could have a gorgeously printed and impeccably cut-to-outline image of the tree that shimmers in the store lights… and mounts to the wall in minutes.

Same mood, same branding, but scaled in a way that makes sense.

Here are some other ways to approach this trend at scale and on budget:

Think thin: We can print materials up to two inches thick and assemble items thicker than that. But generally, the thickness of a material drives up the price for printing.

The sweet spot is around three or four millimeters, which is about average for prints—and much less costly.

Consider corrugated/plastic materials: They’re lightweight, but strong and safe in almost any weather. They can also be bent into many types of shapes and are sturdy enough to hold other parts of your display or even your products.

And because of their strength, they can reduce the need for expensive hardware.

Cut down on labor: You can assemble any shape you can think of, but it takes a lot of manpower to do it at scale. So work with your partner to choose shapes that can be printed into one piece or very easily popped together with just a couple of pieces.

Get a luxe look for less: At scale, extra costs can add up quickly until your project no longer fits your budget. The right partner can help you choose materials that will work for your use case and look expensive without breaking the bank.

Most brands these days are looking for ways to lower their costs, not raise them. So one of the challenges that we have is how can we take flat things, cut them, poke them, bend them, give them illusions, and fill the space?

It is possible to do it for certain things with certain materials. You just need the know-how.

Mark Popp
VP, Technology, Research, and Development

Retail design trend 4: Larger Than Life visuals drive buzz and big impact

Trend 4: Larger-Than-Life

Bigger can be better.

Using giant elements can give you more bang for your shopper marketing buck, as shoppers can see your display well before they approach it.

And if you’re striving for word-of-mouth buzz, the photos that will surely be snapped in front of your enormous display are worth a thousand words, and the resulting social media shares are free advertising for your brand.

Believe it or not, it is possible to get these wow, larger-than-life activations at scale and in a shippable way. It just takes planning.

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