Responsible Management Education

Retail Atmospherics

Retail Atmospherics
Dr. Kriti Swarup
Assistant Professor, Marketing
IILM, Greater Noida

Retail Atmospherics
Retail atmospherics refers to store factors such as display design and fixtures, flooring, smell, store lighting and temperature, music, wall coverings, and other elements of store’s ambience, which can be controlled by a retailer to influence the consumer’s buying mood. It is the environment inside the store that ultimately influences buyer behavior that is why it is very strategic to retailers. The associations due to environmental dispositions in and around the retail store will facilitate the process of positioning and communicating value in terms of Points of Parity and Points of Difference in the consumer memory. The retail store atmospherics is an array of tangible and intangible dispositions interwoven into a web of meaning that touches the social, cultural, economic, psychological and religious life style of consumers, due to current fad, fashion and trends (Markin, Lillis, and Narayanan, 1976). Retail atmospherics intends to engage all of the customers’ senses into making a purchase. Retail atmospherics are based upon the fundamentals of consumer psychology in terms of using triggers to tell people to make a purchase or to stay more in the store.
The store environment consistently delivers consumer experiences throughout the shopping effort. The environment of a store is designed in order to communicate brand personality and image of the store. The intention is to create a kind of environment which can differentiate the store from competitors and is capable of stimulating purchasing activity by attacking customer’s senses in a very pleasure full manner. Atmosphere is a factor which is present in every buying situation. Atmospherics however, is a conscious planning of atmospheres to contribute to buyer’s propensity to consume (Philip Kotler, 1973-74). It’s perfect planning is capable of enhancing retailers revenues.
For example, a fine dining restaurant play slower paced music to draw in their target crowd and people to stay more and eat more. Similarly a grocery shop might use the colors red and yellow to trigger the appetite and make people more likely to stop in and make a purchase. Most customers do not consciously notice these subtleties, but they create impact. It focuses on all the environmental elements such as dim or bright light, music which is classical, instrumental, fast, slow or hit number, attractive window dressing, layouts, freshness and fragrance, appropriate temperature to make it comfortable, soothing and trendy, vibrant colours, attractive logos and well managed traffic are ideal conditions that can affect the current and future behavior of consumers (Smith and Burns, 1996).

Impact of Retail Atmospheric stimulus on Consumer Purchase Brhaviour (the Prior Work Done on Atmospherics)
Results of the prior work in the area of atmospherics indicates that the atmosphere inside the store is capable of influencing the emotional state of consumers such as arousal and pleasure which eventually elevates the consumers mood and shopping motives. The significance of the above discussion gets more strength from the fact that an approximately 60 – 80% decision of buying takes place inside the store. Many retailers around the globe acknowledge the importance of store environment as a tool for even market differentiation.
Although it really does require an expert’s assistance to create the right effect. Some of the benefits from retail atmospherics are that more people may decide to make purchases, stay longer, and establish a personal connection to the brand or store overall. Retail atmospherics helps retail stores have more influence over their customers to not only encourage spending, but to have them think of their brand in a certain way. Most retail stores that use atmospherics often work with marketing and even psychological experts to create a cohesive brand experience and to ensure that they are using the best approach to target their ideal customers.
There is no one approach to retail atmospherics that works in all retail environments because these details are very specific to the brand and their customer demographics. In order to have an effective retail atmospherics program, it is recommended that retail stores work with an expert with a background in marketing and consumer behavior to create the right experience. While many of these elements influence shoppers’ behavior through their effects on shoppers’ emotion, cognition and physiological state, some of these elements could elicit more direct response from shoppers with very little impact on their thinking, feeling or body comfort. Store environment therefore should be used as a tool for creating positive consumer experiences.

References:

Kotler, P. (Winter, 1973-4).Atmospheric as a marketing tool. Journal of Retailing 21, 48-64.

Levy, Weitz, & Pandit, Retailing Managemnt, McGraw Hill, 8/e.

Markin, R. J., Lillis, C. M. & Narayanan, C. L. (Spring 1976). Social psychological significance of store space. Journal of Retailing, 52, 43-54.

Smith, P. and Burns David, J. (1996). Atmospherics and retail environment: the case of the“power aisle”. International Journal of Retail&Distribution Management, 24, (7-14)

Woodruff, B. R., (1997). CustomerValue: The next source of Competitive advantage. Journal
of the Academy of Marketing Science, (2), 139-153.

Zeithaml,V. (1988). Consumer perception of price, quality and value: a means-end model and
synthesis of evidence. Journal of Marketing , 2-22.