Saturday, 12 November 2011

Do Store Interiors Make You Buy?

I’ve currently been reading articles about the interior design of stores and whether or not it increases sales. Does a shop layout, environment, visual merchandising and interior design make people buy? It has been proven that it does. In today’s market where competition is fierce the design of a shop is where some companies would be able to gain an edge over their competitors. A shops atmosphere can attract customers and keep them coming back.

Andrea Groeppcl-KIein and Dorothea Baun test this theory in their journal ‘The Role of Customers’ Arousal for Retail Stores- Results from Experimental Pilot Study Using Electro dermal Activity as Indicator.’ They agreed with other experts such as Donvan and Rossiter that a pleasant store environment generates arousal and pleasure in the customer which in turn increases; shopping enjoyment, time spent in the store, a willingness to talk to personnel, chances of customers spending more money than planned and their probability of returning to the store.  However they felt that other articles simply measured this on a verbal scale which may not generate accurate results. They propose to use Electro dermal Activity (EDA) to measure a customer’s arousal in a store. EDA is a sensitive indicator that responds to the smallest variation in a person’s arousal.

They set up two different grocery stores in Austria both selling the same products, of the same quality and price.

Store 1 took into account environmental psychology. The fruit and veg were presented in a large scale in deep carriers and separated according to colour. Some products were placed on islands in the middle of the store. Exotic fruit, flowers and fresh herbs were used as eye catchers. The store was bright, spacious and high ceilinged.

Store 2 did not take into account environmental psychology. It wasn’t very bright and there was no extraordinary product presentation unlike store 1. Shelving was put along side the wall and display tables were in rows squeezed within long narrow aisles.

As they thought Store 1 created a higher arousing environment.

So, why does a more pleasant environment make us want to buy or revisit a shop?  Well an interesting and provocative store design affects the part of the brain involved with filtering sensory information from the central nervous system. All sensory information enhances arousal which therefore causes activity and reactivity in the central nervous system. This increases outer and inner stimulation which leads to higher activation and activity. Basically a pleasant store atmosphere evokes positive feelings which will then be associated with the shop and the brand. Stores with clear and simple structures make people feel relaxed therefore more comfortably in the store. When we are comfortable, relaxed and enjoying ourselves we are open to buying.

I know that I’m definitely affected by a stores design there are some shops I dread going into and rarely buy from because the shop is messy, unorganised and overcrowded. Shopping is more pleasurable for me when it’s a calm experience. I like stores that aren’t busy or noisy, that smell nice, have their items laid out clearly, and changing rooms that aren’t claustrophobic. This makes me want to buy; the whole experience feels like I’m treating myself from the moment I walk in to when I leave with my item nicely wrapped and bagged.


  1. Lovely topic, nice research! Next week I will be starting working on the similar topic! Keep posting and sharing info! Greetings from Milan! Rasa:)

  2. Thanks Rasa! This post is for my Advertising Module I'm doing at the moment. Also reading 'Why we Buy' by Paco Underwood,this might be of interest for you. Hope you're having fun in Milano! x