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The Effects of Store Environment on Consumer Behavior

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The Effects of Store Environment on Consumer Behavior essay
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 Introduction

This essay will help in sharing my understanding of how the store environment influences consumer behavior. In this essay, understanding how the different elements that make up the store environment will be reviewed and I shall attempt to explain to my readers on how these elements affect shoppers and how they influence the consumers’ behavior. It also involves understanding what/who a consumer is and then watching and noting how they respond to or behave towards the settings of a store

What is Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is the part of study in the marketing that concentrates on how buyers acquire, use and dispose of goods, services time and ideas. Anyone can be a consumer for instance families, teams, friends or even relatives so long they purchase goods or deliver services for personal. A consumer has the option to choose where they wish to purchase goods and services, thus causing retailers to try by all means to attract them to their stores. This has led to a lot of competition among retailers and everyone is trying to outdo the other to remain relevant, gain a significant market share through their competitive advantages. How do retailers get to know how the consumers behave or respond to their store environments? This information can be obtained from observing and noting the different behaviors exhibited by consumers when exposed to different elements whilst they are in the stores.

Why Study Consumer Behavior?

In an example when one needs a new car, how would they go about satisfying this need? Where would you get the facts about the car? By what means would you set the financial plan? Where would you buy the car? Which car would it be? These among many others are decisions consumers face on a regular basis. Remarkably, consumers however retort these queries contrarily based on their experiences and some psychological factors. In an instance, a company that brands cars how they answer these questions is exactly what they need to assist them on the type of cars to make, how much customers are keen to emolument and the places to sell them. The situation is therefore makes it easier to understand how buyers make these purchase decisions since it is the greatest method to make and preserve clients understanding what persuades their consumption assessment and get ahead their consumption prerequisites. This method manufacturers will design merchandises and amenities that will make their clienteles satisfied.

The Decision Making Process

The process refers to how consumers make the buying decisions and there are 5 steps that consumers follow and it is within these stages that marketers start to influence the behavior of shoppers to the point where they actually then select a store to go and purchase their goods and or services. Once you are in the shop retailers also endeavor to appeal to your different senses and will continue trying to create other purchase decisions simultaneously and maximize on sales and your presence in the store by fine tuning the store environment. The 5 steps in decision making are:

Identifying the Problem

It takes place while there is a discrepancy in what the consumer has and what the consumer requires. For instance, if the customer wants a new phone, the customer seeks out a solution which is to find phone retailers. Conversely, due to the fact a purchaser has a difficulty, it does not necessarily mean they have the means to solve it. The type of product or service price or how easy it is to acquire may affect their purchase decision.

Gathering Data

The customer has to look for information so as to get the solution to their problem. Depending on the type of problem they have, the customer will have different ways of seeking out information. There are two types of information used in this stage. The internal information is from the customers’ memory or previous experiences. The second type of information is external information, probably from friends, family and other customers as they are deemed more objective.

Evaluations of Alternatives

The customer has many resolutions and they have to choose one. They thoroughly go through the previous stage and select the solution that best satisfies their want.

The Purchase

The customer goes to buy the commodity but there are many factors influencing where they will purchase the commodity. The solution can be bought in various places or it can just be in a few selected stores. This is the stage where STORE ENVIRONMENTS truly come under scrutiny from customers and the elimination process begins based on the strengths of the store environment elements like location, convenience and store experience. At this stage customers will call on their memories, previous experiences and acquired information so well to make an important decision that enables retailers to talk to their customers in a unique manner. It is at this stage that retailers customer or ensure a return visit should they find themselves wanting to satisfy another want.

Post Purchase Behavior

At this stage the customers has used or is using the product or service and they will have a feeling satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This is another important stage that retailers need to pay close attention to as it affects your business indefinitely. If the customer is satisfied they will rave not only about your business but about your store to others and draw more business to your store advertise products, services, features and elements that enhanced their store experience leading to the overall satisfaction. During this stage retailers have the chance to follow up with the customer and help them in any way possible taking note of their feedback as this will help you make improvements or changes to store environments along with the products and services and how to deliver both and ensure a return visit or convert them into loyal customers.

This purchase decision making process then leads to the next phase where we look into how to tailor the store environment to deliberately affect the consumer behavior to best serve our objectives of high turnover, growth, profitability etc.

Store Environment Explained

The inspiration of the environment on behavior has long been acknowledged by retailers, architects and interior designers (Baker and al., 1992; Tai and Feng, 1997; Gilboa and Rafaeli, 2003). The environment of the store is made up of elements that include the actual building itself, furniture, fittings, architecture, color, music, lighting, direction signage, temperature, smell, and other social factors that include the number, type and behavior of customers and employees. The merchants have to act on it to alter the behavior of the buyers (Kotler, 1974; Lemoine, 1997; Daucé et Rieunier, 2002; Rieunier et al, 2002). In 1974, Kotler said that the setting of a store causes several reactions on the consumer. It can influence his conative replies (decide on buying more, expenditures, getting a commodity better than the intended one, the desire to spend more time in the shop), it can also have an impact on his affective replies (pleasure, mood, emotion) and cognitive (perceived quality of the service and the value of trade name).

Kotler (1974) proposed that “atmospherics” were a potentially important source of competitive advantage in the retail environment. Bitner (1992) coined the term “servicescapes” in reference to the physical surroundings fashioned by retailers to facilitate the service offering to consumers. It is known that the service environment is made up of both tangible (buildings and furniture) and intangible (temperature, color, scent and music) elements which make up the service experience (Hoffman and Turley, 2002).

Store environments are made up deliberate manipulation of the surroundings to affect customer’s sensory experience, a lot with regards to the “aesthetic’ features of the store that serve as ‘silent language’ communicating with consumers. (Kotler, 19731974,p.48&50). Store atmospheres have an enormous effect on consumers and can affect their behaviors in many ways and all this can be controlled in the brains. Consumers reflect on the attractiveness, decor, design, music, lighting, color, scent, temperature therefore investing in the physical environment that is the interior designs, decor, comfortable seat, high quality furniture, and grooming of workforce will directly increase sales and dramatically the purchase intention (Ryu & Jang 2007, Ryu & Han 2009).

Store Environment Elements

Colors

Color is one of the most powerful methods of design. However it is not entirely universal. Colors can mean and appeal to consumers differently depending on the product, preferences, cultures and interestingly gender. Yes gender, women like pink, purple, green and blue and men prefer black, brown and grey. A store therefore needs to have depth understanding of their target market and what colors to use and their meanings. Colors are used to affect customers and in most cases they won’t even know it! In will mean something to them and draw them to the shop and continue to shop there.

When marketing it is important to note that clients concentrate on visual appearance and color above other factors when shopping. 85% of shoppers consider color as the primary reason why they purchase that particular product.

Below is a table showing some colors and the popular meanings attached to them.

Color Meaning

  • Yellow Optimistic, youthful often used for window shopping
  • Red Energetic, urgency normally used to advertise sales
  • Blue Trust, security adopted mostly by businesses and banks
  • Green Wealth, Relaxing as it mimics the environment
  • Orange Aggressive and usually calls for an action either to buy or sell.
  • Pink Romantic and feminine used for girls products
  • Black Sleek and often used for luxury products
  • Purple Soothing, beauty and royalty.

Scent

The perception behind scent is that they have an instant and captivating effect on shoppers as they are directly linked to the brains limbic system which is responsible for our memories and emotions. Whilst the study of scent and how it affects consumer behavior have only just begun, logic already tells us that if a store badly smells, consumers will spend very little time there or totally avoid it. Therefore retailers need to make sure that the scent around the stores and products is pleasant as it relaxes shoppers and encourages them to spend more time in the stores leading to the actual purchase of goods or services. Consumers also perceive places or products with scent to be of higher quality and are willing to pay more.

Music

Music is everything! It is said that music relaxes the mind and soul. Music also influences shoppers’ pleasure and satisfaction (Morrison et al. 2011). Marketers know that it appeals to your sub-conscience by putting one in a Trans and more often one finds themselves humming and singing along to the back ground music whilst loading away the cart even with things you do not necessarily need. Volume and tempo both affect how consumers spend their money in stores. Slow tempo music calm down the customer and causes them to dawdle in the store longer until they actually buy something or impulsively buy more than they had actually intended to buy from the onset.

Whereas, fast tempo music is more appropriate for stores and restaurants that need rapid turnover. Music is not just about speed; the type of music must match the store and its target markets. For instance, Christmas music is meant to draw people into the shops and get them into the “Giving Spirit” and that for retailers’ means more spending. Playing background music also serves as a distraction to waiting queues that may frustrate and ruin the shopping experience.

Space and Density

Crowding of a shop can be split into two categories. Spatial crowding where physical area factors that include floor layout designs, aisles table area and ceiling height compromise the space a shopper has to maneuver around the shop area. Shoppers generally want to freely navigate through the floor.

The other category of crowding is human crowding. Store designers can control many of these variables to appeal to their customers by either diminishing or enhancing feelings of crowding through store design. Crowding occurs when individuals fail to maintain control over the physical environment and the amount of social interaction exceeds a desired level, while density refers to the objective amount of space per person (Stokols, 1972; Kaya & Weber, 2003; Evans &Wener, 2007). As with smell shoppers avoid and spend little time in crowded stores where their physical movements are restricted or confined and where they feel like their personal space has been invaded by other shoppers who are simultaneously doing the same thing. They tend to look for ways to stay for as short periods as possible in such stores thus reducing their spending potential.

Store design and Signs

Store design intrigues consumers and therefore careful attention should be given to this exercise. The design seen in a children’s toy store is not what one expects to see in a grocery store. These designs help to make consumers buy things without planning to, impulse buying. Store designs encompass layouts of licenses, certificates, signs (teletext, usage instructions), POS and Price displays, wall décor, space designs, allocation and placement of merchandise, furniture and lighting are carefully arranged to create the ideal environment for shoppers to literally feel at home during their shopping experience. Designers deliberate different key issues; circulation – project for traffic-flow and that inspires clienteles to traverse the entire store; coordination – design that combines goods and spaces in order to suggest customer needs and convenience – design that arranges items to create a degree of comfort and access for both customers and employees.

Service Staff

Do customers really care about the presence or behavior of service staff? If the presence of shoppers in a store is anything to go by whilst acknowledging the varying degrees of satisfaction then surely they are happy or satisfied with the presence of service staff. Remember shoppers like getting information, so chances are when faced with a decision between two equally competing products they tend to buy the product which is more informative and the presence of service staff is likely to solve this dilemma. Does it then influence their behavior in anyway? Generally customers feel more compelled in a shop that the staff members are friendly and welcoming, this gives the customer more zeal to want to buy a merchant as they will be getting attention from then staff. Research however does not show much in this regard though a lot of people would love a welcoming and conducive environment.

Emotions and Perceptions

Now that we have talked about the elements that make up the store environment and how retailers employ these elements to encourage shoppers to spend more time in the stores and increase sales. I shall dwell more on what marketers are actually reaching out to. Perceptions! Yes what most of these elements are doing really is appealing to our perceptions and emotions which then influence our decision making process. Perception is the procedure by which one selects, organizes and interprets stimuli into a significant and logical picture of the world. This stimulus is taken in by the senses of smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing.

Emotions are intense personal feelings derived from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others and their surroundings. A shop with artificial foot prints acting as directional signs to a display on promotion or being launched encourages customers to follow the defined path giving little thought or emotion aroused by the layout (Levy and Weitz 1997). The majority of studies on emotional response to store environment adopt the Pleasure Arousal and Dominance patterns, and give affirmation that a shoppers’ emotional condition can be sustainably represented by the PAD theories (Donovan and Rossiter 1982; Bellizzi and Hite 1992; Babin and Darden 1995). These studies also show that the emotional response leads to a variety of behaviors and outcomes, such as how long the shoppers stay and how much money they spend inside a store. Some other studies use other scales that include some emotion measures (Bellizzi et al. 1983; Crowley 1993).

Lighting

Lighting is an important trigger that creates the urge to buy impulsively (Eroglu and Machleit, 1993). In restaurants and shop displays good lighting techniques help create the right ambience. A store with good lighting may lure shoppers to want to experience the store and create an urge to purchase. Well-designed lighting systems can bring and added the oomph to an interior, the shopper eyes to key sales points, create an atmosphere of excitement, induce positive affect, or simply make key approach areas safe and visible (Smith, 1989). Ambient factors including music and lighting have a positive effect on arousal (Sherman et al., 1997) and all these can trigger a desire (urge) to purchase impulsively (Eroglu and Machleit, 1993).

Impulse Buying

An impulse purchase or impulse buying is an unplanned decision to buy a product or service, made just before a purchase. One who tends to make such purchases is referred to as an impulse purchaser or impulse buyer. Why do people engage in impulsive buying? The simplest answer is that some people just derive huge pleasure from acquiring something new. When they buy something they feel exceptional. Uses of heuristics (unconsciously held rules of thumb) that help us make quick decisions that we’ve learned generally work out well. Retailers take advantage of this by packaging up products as bulk buys, or they include ‘free’ extras. We get the impression that it must be good value, and we go with this feeling rather than researching any further.

Conclusion

In conclusion study gives great insight in the attempts to understand how store environments: background music, ambient scent, ambient lighting and in-store signage along with the internal processing state pleasure, arousal, dominance influence the behavior of shoppers. Study indicates significant influences of store atmospherics on both cognitive and affective states of the customers. Different elements of store atmospherics have varying influences on consumer perceptions of emotions. Therefore, different store atmospheric elements act as stimuli in the formation of consumer perceptions towards different attributes of the store. Study also confirms the further influences of cognitive and affective states on consumer behavioral outcomes. Hence, store atmospherics are important ingredients in the way consumers perceive shops which contributes to influences on their overall store experiences.

The Effects of Store Environment on Consumer Behavior essay

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FAQ

How does store layout affect consumer Behaviour?
According to Lewison (1994) the store layout influences both shopping atmosphere and shopping behaviour of consumers visiting the store . A well designed store layout can contribute to a positive shopping atmosphere, which results in the kind of shopping behaviour a retailer wants to achieve.
What are some of the store influences on consumers?
They include physical factors such as a store's buying locations, layout, music, lighting, and even scent . Companies try to make the physical factors in which consumers shop as favorable as possible. If they can't, they utilize other tactics such as discounts.
What are the factors of store environment?
Store environment consists of ambient factors such as lighting, and music; design factors such as layout and assortment; and social factors such as the presence and efficiency of salespersons . Highly stimulating and pleasant store environments lead to enhanced impulse buying tendency.
What are the various environmental influences that affect consumption behaviour?
Environmental Factors Affecting Consumer buying Behaviour Social Class. By social class we refer to the group of people who share equal positions in a society. Social Group Influences. Family Influence. Personal Influences. Other Influences.
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