Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Factors Affecting Shoppers' Brand Preference towards Choosing Retail Stores

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Factors Affecting Shoppers' Brand Preference towards Choosing Retail Stores

Article excerpt

Introduction

Nowadays, modern retail formats, which include supermarkets and hypermarkets, are making strong inroads into developing countries including India. Thus, an increasing number of modern retail outlets are being seen in our country. These modern retailers are adding newer service dimensions to create unique shopping experiences for their customers. A sharp rise in consumers' disposable incomes and changing lifestyles are driving them towards modern retail stores for shopping. With their divergent lifestyles, customers are choosing retail stores which meet their preferences. With the emergence of new retail outlets, consumers are reviewing where they will do the major portion of their shopping. Perceptions about stores are driven substantially by their physical characteristics, such as format or list size, proximity of the store, as well as store ambience. In fact, Indian retail space is likely to witness sharp growth due to the emergence of modern retail formats. It therefore becomes necessary for retailers to understand what factors influence consumers to choose a particular retail store.

Earlier, physical characteristics of stores were not a significant parameter, when one had only traditional retail outlets to choose from. However, with the expansion of modern retail outlets, consumers can choose which retail format to visit depending on the factors that they perceive as important. Thus, this study was aimed at analyzing the factors which influence shoppers to choose a particular retail store over others.

Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

Though several studies have been conducted previously on factors affecting consumers' choice of retail outlets, most of them took a generic approach to the subject, and focused on western and European contexts. There were very few prominent studies available in marketing literature which focused on factors affecting store choice of consumers in nonwestern markets. One of these was a study by Ok Kim and Jin (2001), which was conducted to identify store attributes which affect consumers' store choice in Korea. They have identified several factors including store layout, parking space, store atmosphere and others.

Another study in store choice literature was by Venkateswarulu and Uniyal (2007). They identified five factors: (1) appeal and convenience; (2) amenities and atmospherics; (3) ambience; (4) personnel; and (5) parking and seating.

An earlier study by Hirschman et al. (1978) pointed out ten store attributes that are responsible for store image and thus store choice. These include sales clerk's service, location of the store, store layout and store atmosphere, among others.

After a thorough literature review, this study considers the following five factors, which were emphasized the most in previous studies and were also regarded as important attributes of modern retail stores:

1. Store Ambience

2. Store Location

3. Store Layout

4. Parking Facility

5. Service Quality

Store Ambience

Store ambience refers to store background characteristics (e.g., lighting, temperature, cleanliness, music or noise, scent) that tend to impact upon the subconscious. They influence customers directly or indirectly (Bitner, 1992). Previous studies noticed the importance of store ambience in store choice (Bitner, 1990; Spangenberg et al., 1996; Wakefield and Blodgett, 1996; Summers and Hebert, 2001; Vaccaro et al., 2008; and Barber and Scarcelli, 2010). When ambient conditions are within an acceptable range, consumers may not even be aware of their existence. It is only when the conditions are outside the zone of tolerance that individuals are likely to notice (Baker, 1987). Hence, store ambience is considered as a factor which affects shoppers' store preference in this study and the following hypothesis was proposed:

H1: Store ambience has a significant effect on consumers' preference towards the retail store. …

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