Survey data demonstrate that the perceived atmosphere constructs are positively associated with both hedonistic and utilitarian evaluations of retail shopping value. Importantly, the relationship between the customers perception of the store’s level of sophistication (perceived style) and the customer’s overall assessment that the store is a pleasant place (perceived overall atmosphere) is different for different retail brands. The results suggest that the relationship between constructs can be used to detect differentiation between retail brands. 201 3 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Atmospherics Perceptions Hedonistic Utilitarian 1. Introduction Atmospherics is a practice that “recognizes that a marketing environment should be carefully sculpted to both induce particular behaviors and evaluations from consumers and to appeal to a specific target market (Turtle and Bolton, 1999). ” One survey found that for 63% of consumers atmosphere caused them to spend more time in the store, and among these 45% said they spent more money as a result (Anonymous, 2004).
Thus, it is important for retailers to create atmospherics that impact the thoughts and feelings of consumers (Achebe and Dubbed , 2000; Kettle, 1973). Wilson (2007:48) details how the Dutch retailer G-Star has used atmospherics to “reflect the values and taste level” of their target clientele. Retailers like G-Star understand their customers and respond with physical environments that will keep them in the store a bit longer and coming back for more. Unfortunately they are designing these environments on a relatively small foundation of theory- driven research; this paper seeks to improve this foundation.
As Achebe and Dubbed , 2000: 89) noted ‘Yokel’s decisions on the design and management of retail atmospheres are frequently made on the basis of a dearth of information that in other domains would be unimaginable” Turtle and Mailman (2000) argue that retail researchers must begin to make theoretical connections that can improve retail managers’ practical understanding of the retail atmosphere. Regrettably, retail atmospherics is not often examined in the same holistic manner in which it is experienced by the customer (Mantilla and Write, 2001 ; Micron et al. , 2005).
Since retail environments are designed to achieve an overall impression, Corresponding author. Tell. : VI 405 744 5106; fax: > 1 405 744 5180. E-mail addresses: Steven. [email protected] Du (S. W. Urban), [email protected] Dude (K. E. Voss). Tell. : Pl 405 7445192; fax: 405 744 5180. 0969-6989/$ – see front matter & 201 3 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Http:// DXL. DOI. Org/1 0. 1016/j. correctness. 201 3. 01. 012 understanding customers holistic impressions is critically important for assessing the extent to which the design’s goals have or have not been reached.
The present research contributes to the literature on retail atmosphere in three ways. First, we propose and empirically validate a new theoretical model of holistic consumer perceptions of the retail atmosphere. Second, we monster that three different holistic perceptions of atmosphere are related to hedonistic and utilitarian value through a key mediating variable: perceived overall atmosphere. Third, the relationship between the customers overall atmosphere) is different for different retail brands. Thus the proposed model of retail atmosphere perceptions can substantiate differentiation between retail brands. 2.
Background To a great extent, published articles in the area of retail atmospherics have focused on very specific atmospheric variables such as display type, color, signage, information rate, novelty, etc. (Turtle and Mailman, 2000). This approach involves the manipulation of environmental variables; such as music (e. G. Arena, 2003; Mantilla and Write, 2001; Yalta and Springer, 2000), crowding (e. G. Rogue and Michelle, 1 990; Micron et al. , 2005), digital signage (Dennis et al. , 201 0), odor (e. G. Mantilla and Write, 2001; Micron et 2005), organization (e. G. Nag et al. , 1997; Bitter, 1990), arousal level (e. G.
Cleavage and White, 2006), or formability of the atmosphere (e. G. Baker et al. , 2002; Than and Tan, 2003). Secondly, research as examined the interaction effect of scent and music (Mantilla and Write, 2001), the interaction of task orientation and retail density (Rogue and Michelle, 1 990), the interaction of music tempo and visual cues (Achebe et al. , 1993), the interaction of S. W. Urban, K. E. Voss / Journal Of Retailing and Consumer Services 20 (2013) 400-407 ambient music and lighting and social cues (Baker et al. , 1992), and Micron et al. (2005) investigated the effects of ambient smells at different levels of retail density.
We agree that examining interaction effects among atmospheric attributes is valuable. However, given the large number of atmospheric attributes that are present in the retail environment, examining interactions IA experimental methods will necessarily be limited by the number of manipulations that can be successfully introduced in such studies. Thus, examination of interactions between atmospheric attributes falls short of examining the retail atmosphere in the holistic way that customers perceive it. Thirdly, some published research views the retail environment as a facilitator for specific behaviors.
For example, Crossbars et al. (1990) linked customer patronage intentions to specific elements of the atmosphere. Other studies conceived of the atmosphere as facilitating a customers positive or active affective arousal, which then influenced hedonistic/utilitarian shopping value and the proportion of the customers business directed at a specific retailer (Fabian and Ottawa, 2000; Fabian and Darned, 1995). Similarly, Sahara and Stafford (2000) examined how the persuasive impact of sales force influence techniques varied based on prestige store ambiance versus discount store ambiance.
Kumar and Karaoke (2000) found that atmospheric variables for grocery stores such as the number of check-out stands and the proportion of non-grocery items facilitated sales per square tot, but that this varied by the attributes Of the neighborhood in which the store was located. 3. Perceptions of retail atmosphere We develop a model of retail customers atmospheric perceptions; building on the understanding that customers utilize holistic processing to form perceptions about the atmosphere (Baker et al. 2002; Bitter, 1992; Mantilla and Write, 2001; Micron et al. , 2005; Sahara and Stafford, 2000). While many authors have based their atmospheric investigations in the stimulus- organism-response (S-O-R) tradition (e. G. Oh et al. , 2008; Than and Tan, 2003), we propose a theoretical model of the enter-relationships between important constructs that would be at the organism level of an S-O-R model. Our model is grounded in the hedonistic and utilitarian branch of perceived value theory (Sanchez-Fernando and Ninnies- Bonito, 2007).
Hedonistic and utilitarian value is a two-dimensional perceived value theory which holds that consumers value products for both affective gratification (hedonistic), and instrumental, task-related reasons (Hiroshima and Holbrook, 1982; Holbrook and Hiroshima, 1982). Reflecting the hedonistic and utilitarian branch of perceived value theory, customers’ attitudes toward, and evaluation of, stimuli has been nationalized with two dimensions (Fabian et 1994; Bator and Atoll, 1990; Voss et al. , 2003). Hedonistic shopping value is an experiential construct which reflects shopping potential entertainment and emotional worth (Fabian et al. 1994; Belonged et al. , 1976). Hedonistic shopping value is the perception that a store is a location in which to participate in shopping for the enjoyment of the activity; the purpose of obtaining a specific item or group of items is still important but greater value is placed on the experience. For example, Demount (2011) showed that when music is congruent with the overall atmosphere that customer’s perception of pleasure from shopping increased. One also can contrast buying Logos building blocks at a mass merchandise store versus buying Logos building blocks at the end of a visit to Legend. Utilitarian shopping value, on the other hand, represents individuals’ instrumental shopping desires, I. E. Shopping with a specific purchase purpose in which efficiency and effectiveness are primary concerns (Fabian et al. , 1994). Utilitarian shopping 401 value is the recognition of a store as one in which to obtain essential items or a specific outcome, quickly, and without problems; that is, the utilitarian hopping experience is likely to be driven by instrumental concerns with experiential concerns centered on avoiding hassles or perceived effort.
Following other published literature (e. G. Fabian and Darned, 1 995; Jackson et al. , 2011; Cirrhosis et al. , 1998), hedonistic/utilitarian shopping value are dependent variables in our hypothesized model. However, within the domain of retail atmospherics, relationships between hedonistic and utilitarian value and customer’s holistic evaluations of the retail atmosphere have not been convincingly established. While unique, our model does have antecedents in the atmospherics iterate.
Bitter (1992) introduced the construct ‘perceived serviceable’ as a key mediating variable between ambient, special layout, and signage atmospherics and customer responses to the service environment. Both Cotter et al. (2006) and Micron et al. (2008) position environmental variables as antecedents of hedonistic and utilitarian shopping value, but these articles use questionable measures and reach conflicting conclusions. Wakefield and Belonged (1996) introduced perceptual measures as predictors of perceived quality, satisfaction, and reportage intentions; however, these are specific o athletic stadiums and arenas.
Gang and Making (2009) explored perceived overall atmosphere as an antecedent to positive or negative affect and reportage intentions. In our theoretical model perceived overall atmosphere is a key mediating variable. More recently, Masticate et al. (201 1) measured mall atmosphere in hedonistic terms (I. E. Stimulating and interesting atmosphere) and Jackson et al. (201 1) explored mall experience as an antecedent to hedonistic and utilitarian shopping value. Retailers have long realized that the retail environment is the product of a design effort (Belize et al. 983; Donovan and Roister, 1982). The retail designer creates a space that communicates with the customer and contributes to the overall shopping experience (Kent and Stone, 2007). For example, the restaurant chain Del Fresco attempts to combine tradition and modernizes to create a unique and interesting overall consumption experience (Alicia, 2009). Similarly, fashion retailer Doggie Karma has incorporated a cafe’ and beauty salon within its store to offer a more engaging total experience (Wilson, 2008).
In the theoretical model proposed in Fig. 1 customers’ perception of overall atmosphere is a function of received modernizes, perceived style, and perceived organization. Like Fabian and Darned (1995) Fig. 1 has hedonistic and utilitarian shopping value as the dependent variables. However, the antecedents in Fabian and Darned are the consumers’ pleasure-arousal-dominance emotions evoked by the retail environment. In contrast, the current model holds that perceptions of the retail atmosphere directly influence the dependent variables. . 1. Perceptions of retail atmosphere Perceived overall atmosphere is the overall impression of the store’s atmosphere as a pleasant or unpleasant place to shop (e. G. Gang and Making, 2009; Teller and Reuters, 2008). Overall perceptions Of the retail atmosphere are the most holistic response an individual will have toward a store’s environment. Some published qualitative research substantiates the perceived overall atmosphere construct; for example, Hooch (1988: 236-37) interviewed customers of a hypermarket.
Comments included statements such as really have to want to go to the hypermarket, feel at home when you’re thereby,” “l like being somewhere on a human scale, and not somewhere vast and overwhelming,” and ‘Weaverbird knows that you don’t get the same warmth n a hypermarket)/’ Sits (2008: 183-84) interviewed shoppers regarding their experiences. Published 402 S. W. Urban, K. E. Voss / Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 20 (2013) 400 407 Perceived Organization Style spinney Bell Rue 21 Old Navy . 22 Shopping Value Ha Overall Atmosphere Hob . 21 Modernizes Fig. Effects Of atmospheric evaluations on hedonistic and utilitarian shopping value. Note: ***pop . 01; **p o . 05; *p o . 10. Comments included: “My feeling in this store is special. Feel calm, welcomed,” “The fact is I feel good, but I don’t know why,” and “I feel good in this store. These comments reveal a sense of comfort/discomfort and appeal/lack of appeal due to the store’s atmosphere. In Fig. 1 perceptions of the overall atmosphere are influenced by three atmospheric perceptions: perceived organization, perceived style, and perceived modernizes. We address each in turn.
Bitter (1990) showed that perceived organization affects customers’ causal attributions regarding the likelihood that poor service quality would be repeated in the future. Organization, in the sense of things being in their place, has been used as a component of a favorable design in experimental research (Baker et al. , 2002). Perceived organization is defined as the perception of the maintained nature of the retail store. The maintained nature of the space includes perceptions such as cleanliness, orderliness, and the sense that everything is in its assigned place.
This is impacted by layout and design variables (Backstab and Johansson, 2006) as well as general interior variables (Turtle and Mailman, 2000). Because spaces that are clean, uncluttered, and organized are more welcoming places than those which are unclean, cluttered, and disorganized, it follows that perceived organization should be an antecedent of perceived overall atmosphere. Thus: HI . Perceived organization is positively associated with the perceived overall atmosphere of the retail environment. Though not labeled as perceived style in published research, the concept has been studied.
For example, one experiment measured differences in sales force influence based on a prestige or discount store atmospheric, finding that the prestige manipulation positively impacted perceptions (Sahara and Stafford, 2000). Perceived style is defined as the perception of the level of sophistication of the retail store. Perceived style is a function of those attributes included in the general interior’s layout and sign, point-of purchase layout and design, and decoration/ fashion variables (Turtle and Mailman, 2000: 194).
As the above G-Star example demonstrates, retailers aim to design the retail environment to a level of sophistication that matches clientele taste. Because environments that are perceived to be more sophisticated and tasteful should be more appealing, it is hypothesized that the perceived style of the store atmosphere will impact the perceived overall atmosphere Of the retail environment. H2O. Perceived style is positively associated with the perceived overall atmosphere of the retail environment. Perceived modernizes is defined as the perception of the retail atmosphere as contemporary or as ahead of its time.
That is, a retail environment that is perceived as out-of-date or loadstone’s is low in perceived modernizes. Greenland and McCormick (2005) examined a similar construct with respect to bank design and atmospherics. They found that modernity of the bank’s design was an important determinant of customer reaction to the atmosphere. This variable will be highly dependent on changing fashion. Influencing perceived modernizes requires the retail manager to regularly update the atmosphere to match the times and trends. Importantly, perceived modernizes is different than perceived style.
Perceived style can be high when the atmosphere is designed to be retro, classic, or evocative of famous scenes or famous works of art. But, such retail designs should not be perceived as modern. When a retail store is perceived as capturing current or future trends it should be an appealing atmosphere for customers. Because perceived overall atmosphere captures the appeal of the atmosphere, perceived modernizes will influence the perceived overall atmosphere of the retail environment.