Atmospheric Cues in Retail Stores

Topics: Retailing, Shopping mall, Sales Pages: 21 (7480 words) Published: October 1, 2013

Atmospheric Cues in Retail Stores:
Their Effect on the Consumer’s Hedonic Retail Experience

Retailers are finding it more and more difficult to differentiate themselves from their competition, specifically based on the four Ps of marketing; product, place, price and promotion. They have been forced to inquire about diverse and distinctive atmospheric cues, in order to attract and maintain customers and their loyalty. According to (Morrison, 2001), elements such as colour, lighting, layout, and display features have been considered as having an immediate effect on the buying decision making process, and focus has moved from in-store product displays toward elements that excite the senses of shoppers, such as: screen videos and graphics, music, smell, lighting, flooring, etc. All of these things have a tendency to capture brand image and personality to help create a unique environment and shopping experience. Customer attitudes and perceptions relating to the complete value of the store, in terms of distinctiveness of the product and service levels, can be influenced by the atmospheric cues within the store. The atmosphere in a store becomes important when, because of competitors, the merchandise is considered similar. Consequently, creating a unique environment becomes essential for fabricating a customer-retailer relationship. Also considering the alteration in our economy and change in shopping behaviour of customers, they are now seen as someone with feelings, personality and longings, and not just a buyer of products. (Quartier, Christiaans, and Van Cleempoel, 2009). This all means that retailers are obliged to look at marketing in a different way and generate new theories and perceptions in order to appeal to the customers of today’s market.

Music communicates with our hearts and minds; it serves as a powerful connection to our emotions. Music is versatile; it has the ability to relax or invigorate. Music is memorable; it can transfer us in an instant to places we want to be. (Morrison, 2001). It is also probably one of the most inexpensive investments retailers can make in contributing to enhancing the atmospheric cues within their store to appeal to their customers. Specifically programmed or personalized music strategies aid in helping retailers connect with specific target markets and it supports a retail brand. They do this by looking at customer demographics: age, gender, income levels, and concentrate on psychographics: preferences, personality, lifestyles and attitude (Morrison, 2001). By understanding their target markets, retailers can create an audio atmosphere that makes their customers comfortable and relaxed, and in return they will be willing to stay longer and be happy to make purchases from their stores. Carefully selected music generates an instant dissimilarity about a retail brand by instituting the right mood, which relates back to the need to differentiate from competitors. Music can motivate the subconscious and create a first and lasting impression (Morrison, 2001).

Gorn suggests that background music may become associated with the advertised product through memory, and it doesn’t even have to be a conscious realization. Through classical conditioning the product becomes associated with the positive feelings of liked music. (Alpert, Judy and Alpert, Mark, 1989). Thus, what this is saying is, stores can draw in customers subconsciously by playing music, fitting to the store of course, and that their target market enjoys. The classical conditioning suggests that when customers hear the music they heard in the store, they will relate it positively to the products in that store, making it more likely that they will make a return visit.

Not only does just music affect the attitudes and perceptions of customers, but the types of music played when customers are shopping make a difference as well. Slow tempo of instrumental background...

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