How 'Atmospherics' Can Differentiate Retail Outlets: How a Consumer Is Influenced by Atmospheric Factors-Music, Colours, Smells-Is the Subject of Much Conjecture. What Follows Is a Guide on How to Monitor These Effects and How Some Factors Can Influence Spending Patterns
Turley, Louis, European Business Forum
Over 40 years ago, psychologists like Abraham Maslow noted that people performed tasks better when asked to do them in aesthetically pleasing environments. During the 1960s researchers began manipulating the design and arrangement of the retail environment and concluded that these changes have an effect on shoppers and their shopping behaviour. Since that time practitioners have become increasingly concerned with creating retail environments that are conducive to increased spending on goods. Recently, for example, major retail chains have been standardising the look of their stores by using identical design schemes, called prototypes, often designed by outside consultants trained in environmental psychology and architecture.
The physical characteristics and features used to develop an image and customer appeal are called atmospherics in goods--related retailing and servicescapes in the services sector. Atmospheric effects are the physiological and psychological reactions or impressions a consumer forms from the physical elements associated with the store. I have looked at 60 previous studies which underscore the types of behaviours which managers can influence in their customers. They include the use of: varying music styles and tempos (shown to affect sales in supermarkets, impulse purchasing in department stores, emotional responses to waiting in banks, sales in wine shops and sales in a restaurant); store window displays; lighting (shown positively to influence the number of items handled by shoppers); ambient odours: store layout; and merchandise arrangements.
Most studies on this topic have adopted a consumer behaviour perspective, and provide only cursory discussion of managerial issues and concerns for atmospheric design. Moreover, those few exceptions tend to adopt the large chain store perspective and assume that there are people in the organisation that specialise in store design and atmosphere creation. They neglect the smaller, entrepreneurial retail firm which lacks these specialists.
What follows is therefore aimed at these non-specialists and describes an approach for conducting so called atmospheric audits--an in-depth and systematic examination and evaluation of the retail selling environment. Recommendations and guidelines for business owners and entrepreneurs to use in creating and controlling successful and effective retail selling environments will also be presented.
Conducting an atmospheric audit
Atmospheric audits are most pertinent in cases where the customer has the most intimate experience of the selling environment, ie when he or she actually goes to the organisation, as opposed to cases where the organisation goes to the customer or the organisation and the customer transacts at arm's length, such as over the internet.
Exhibit 1 provides a broad 'checklist' of those elements that make up the retail and service …
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Publication information: Article title: How 'Atmospherics' Can Differentiate Retail Outlets: How a Consumer Is Influenced by Atmospheric Factors-Music, Colours, Smells-Is the Subject of Much Conjecture. What Follows Is a Guide on How to Monitor These Effects and How Some Factors Can Influence Spending Patterns. Contributors: Turley, Louis - Author. Magazine title: European Business Forum. Issue: 4 Publication date: Winter 2000. Page number: 49+. © 2008 Caspian Publishing Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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