This research work aims to examine the influence of lighting manipulations in retail display areas on the behavior of customers. In particular, it is necessary to focus on such measurements as 1) the amount of time spent at display; 2) the number of items touched, and 3) the number of items, picked by the visitors. The major hypothesis is that the increased level of illumination intensifies consumers willingness to stay near the display, examine items and touch them. Yet, it is just an assumption that should be substantiated. The key difficulty in evaluating the effects of illumination on peoples buying activities is that their decisions may be shaped by other factors, for instance, the nature and quality of the product.
Background and Literature Review
Overall, the impacts of shop atmospherics on buyers conduct have been thoroughly investigated by many scholars. In his landmark study, Kotler (1973) points out that people take much more interest in the total product. In other words, the internal environment of the shop or its interior design may play the most crucial role for them at least at the level of sub-consciousness. Furthermore, store atmospherics can even be more important than commodities. In part, this research relies on the investigation, conducted by Areni and Kim (1994), who also evaluated the effects of lighting manipulation on consumers selection of products. Their findings are in league with the initial premise; the researchers report higher degrees of clients satisfaction while visiting stores with increased illumination (1994). However, this question still requires a thorough examination and this study further contributes to a better understanding of this issue.
This investigation was carried out in two separate retail stores. In this research, we have given preference to simple random sampling, which means that the subjects (visitors of the shop) were people belonging to different social classes, ethnic groups, professions, and so forth. This strategy was intended to eliminate the possibility of bias while interpreting the results. The key task was to analyze the differences within each store but not between them. In other words, we needed to find out how people would react to lighting manipulations. This is why one of the departments was intensely illuminated and the other was not. While gathering the data, we mostly relied on qualitative research methods, in particular, observation. The participants were not informed that they had been videotaped. We did not tell them about it to minimize the so-called observers effect.
To analyze the data we have used such methods as Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Bonferroni paired comparisons. The dependent variables were the amount of time spent near the display, the number of items touched and the number of products, picked by the visitors, while the independent variable was the level of lighting. ANOVA was employed to test for significant differences among means of the three dependent variables.
The results of ANOVA indicate that customers tend to remain longer in those areas of the shop with supplemental lighting. In sharp contrast, customers did not stay long in those parts of both shops which were dimly illuminated. Moreover, intensified illumination is associated with the increasing number of items, touched by the visitors (M= 5,78). Namely, they picked up more belts than tools (Summers & Hebert 2001, p 149). These behaviors were observed in both stores. Bonferroni test has demonstrated that there is a significant covariate of age: namely, the population under 12 stayed the longest time near test displays (M=15,33) (Summers & Hebert 2001, p 148). While other age groups spent less time near displays. Judging from this evidence, we can argue that a consumers behavior also depends on his age.
Furthermore, this research has demonstrated that the decision-making of the visitors could be affected by other factors like the nature of the product. For instance, people might pick belts because they had to try them. Consequently, they remained longer near the display. Furthermore, the prices on tools were found on the front face of the display fixture, while, the price for belts was set individually. It was hardly possible to learn the price without picking the object. So, we may say that the decisions of consumers can be determined by other circumstances, not only lighting. These are the major limitations of this research.
Therefore, intensified lighting can be associated with the increased desire to examine products and touch them. However, at this point, no conclusive or indisputable evidence proves that lighting directly enhances peoples intention to buy the product. It may be only one of those forces which motivate customers behavior. Nevertheless, the effects of illumination cannot be entirely dismissed. To measure them in the most precise manner, it is necessary to construct a scenario when people need to buy identical products but in different settings.
Still, even despite these limitations, this research work contributes to a better understanding of consumers behavior in the store. It has both theoretical and practical implications. For example, the results might be used by the owners of retail stores to raise the level of peoples satisfaction and boost profitability. Yet, the findings require verification and further investigations should be carried out to test them.
Areni, C. S., Kim, D. (1994), “The influence of in-store lighting on consumers’ examination of merchandise in a wine store”, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Vol. 11 pp.117-25.
Kotler P. (1973). “Atmospherics as a marketing tool”. J Retailing, vol. 4, issue 4, pp 48– 64.
Summers, T. A. & Hebert P.R.(2001). “Shedding some light on store atmospherics Influence of illumination on consumer behavior”. Journal of Business Research, vol. 54, pp 145-150.