Jun 23, 2014
Appealing to All
Courtney Culey, Digital Engagement Editor

Some birthday decor sells no matter the age range

Much like money, shelf space doesn’t grow on trees. Most of you know that-and most of you know that selection is key. When it comes to birthday decor and partyware, storeowners are forced to pick from hundreds of options. How do you decide?

You listen. Customers are constantly asking for birthday decor and partyware that can appeal to people of all ages. With a little merchandising, it’s an easy sell, but it’s your job is to figure out which one of those themes will appeal most to your market. Practice makes perfect.

Must-Have Merchandise

Disney’s “Frozen” is dominating the little girl birthday world, superheroes are taking the male party scene by storm and black and gold partyware continues to be the dominating choice for the older generations. But what designs can conquer it all?

“Unique has found that traditional birthday patterns have the greatest and broadest appeal to most customers of all ages,” said Dawn Kirschner, creative director of Unique Industries. “Patterns with darker backgrounds tend to skew a little older, pastel patterns are more appealing for females parties, while the core primary colors appeal to all.

“These patterns can be paired with specific solid colors, dot and/or stripes to make them uniquely their own.”

When it comes to birthday decor and partyware themes, what’s appealing to people all ages?

“Zebra print, horses, camouflage, ’70s peace, moustache, tropical/luau and cupcake,” said Brenda Fink, owner and CBA of Party Magic. At her Godfrey, Illinois, store, moustache and zebra print are topping the list.

Why? Because moustache decor can be used to announce the birth of a baby or celebrate a 70th birthday party. Zebra-themed parties are being requested by women of all ages and incorporated into bachelorette parties, baby showers and more.

Deb Turner, vice president and manager at Party Land, answered much of the same, but added a few others: princess and diva, western, sports and pirate attire. In her St. Louis market, luau, moustache and sports-themed decor is selling best.

St. Louis is a popular baseball town, so Turner often sells St. Louis Cardinals decor for “baby showers and birthdays to age 95.” She’s even seen the theme displayed at various wedding events.

“Merchandising these items with some personalized items like banners and cutouts will tie it all together,” Turner said. “Also merchandising it with solid colors can show the customer how it will look at their party. Party favors and accessories can be changed out to be age appropriate.”

For instance, she said when coordinating a pirate-themed party, the younger generations will search for a hidden treasure filled with eye patches, rings, beads and gold coins. The older generation, on the other hand, will enjoy searching for a bottle of rum or whiskey and valuable jewelry.

Birthday decor will sell to people of all ages if you select the right designs, but Fink reminded us that the retail display is essential.

“Incorporating specific ages into the decor is a great way to shoe the possible age range,” she said. “We like to personalize decor with names and ages when possible.”

People like what’s popular, but they also like to feel something unique on their special day.

“The trick is pulling a variety of items together to create and illusion,” Kirschner said. “Whether you are taking everyone under the sea or want to be a princess for a day, it’s about creating a feel. The trick is to merchandise products together to get your customer thinking and creating visuals in the store to inspire.”

Back to the Basics

If the birthday themes available in your store match your market demand, selling opportunities will be created. But that’s only half of it – you must stock the shelves with must-have party products to see your profits soar.

“The must-haves and best-sellers are often one in the same for most birthday designs,” Kirschner said. “You have to have the essentials: plates, napkins, cups and tablecovers. As it relates to accessories, banners, foil and latex balloons, danglers, invitations and thank you notes, gift wrap and gift bags are key. If it is a juvenile birthday pattern, hats, blowouts and a cello/loot bag are also essential.”

Fink had similar thoughts. She said that custom decor, cake plates, napkins, cupcake rings and balloons are best-sellers in her market. The store capitalizes on custom centerpieces and balloon bouquets made to match any birthday party theme.

“As far as decor, the tissue balls and lanterns in the solid colors are selling well and can be incorporated into any theme,” Turner added. “Balloons are always a must-have for birthday parties.”

The trick is to get creative. Will this birthday theme work well with a solid color partyware set? Can I add stripes or dots to this popular design? And don’t forget to be original. If a birthday theme lacks balloon decor, create it yourself. If you sell out of a specific design, use solid colors to fill the void.

For retailers, it’s all about inspiring. For customers, it’s all about visualizing the perfect party, no matter the age.

“In-store visuals and merchandising have the ability to inspire,” Kirschner said. “If retailers can have table settings throughout their store featuring a wide variety items, they can really get their customers thinking and ultimately shopping.”

If your customers are shopping, your wallet is full and a smile is on your face. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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