Effects of Store Image and Mood on Consumer Behavior: a Theoretical and Empirical Analysis

Ruth Belk Smith, University of Baltimore
Elaine Sherman, Hofstra University
ABSTRACT - Although considerable research has focused upon the traditional information processing paradigm to explain or predict consumer behavior, only a minimal effort has been concerned with affective factors' influence on cognition, attitudes, and behavior of the consumer. In addition, most basic research in cognitive psychology has been conducted within the confines of the laboratory using carefully delineated tasks and techniques. These have resulted in advancing the study of cognition and, although useful for isolating intellectual processes of interest, such tasks and the conditions under which they are administered are not representative of the whole of human thought. They need to be supplemented by more broadly based investigations, because in natural life situations, reasoning and remembering are carried out in social contexts and are influenced by affective as well as cognitive factors.
[ to cite ]:
Ruth Belk Smith and Elaine Sherman (1993) ,"Effects of Store Image and Mood on Consumer Behavior: a Theoretical and Empirical Analysis", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 631.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 631

EFFECTS OF STORE IMAGE AND MOOD ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: A THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS

Ruth Belk Smith, University of Baltimore

Elaine Sherman, Hofstra University

ABSTRACT -

Although considerable research has focused upon the traditional information processing paradigm to explain or predict consumer behavior, only a minimal effort has been concerned with affective factors' influence on cognition, attitudes, and behavior of the consumer. In addition, most basic research in cognitive psychology has been conducted within the confines of the laboratory using carefully delineated tasks and techniques. These have resulted in advancing the study of cognition and, although useful for isolating intellectual processes of interest, such tasks and the conditions under which they are administered are not representative of the whole of human thought. They need to be supplemented by more broadly based investigations, because in natural life situations, reasoning and remembering are carried out in social contexts and are influenced by affective as well as cognitive factors.

In response to this, some researchers in marketing have recently turned their attention to the consumer's mood. Mood as a concept has been studied quite seriously and for much longer by psychologists, and much of what we know is due to these efforts. Again, however, most of the studies of the influence of mood on human behavior in general and consumer behavior in particular, have been confined to laboratory type experiments. Examples include how an induced positive mood (receiving a small gift) influences helping behavior and the influence of advertising on moods or vice versa. These types of studies lack external validity and practically speaking, may not be of much use to the retailer who seeks to understand what should be done to induce positive consumer moods. It is known that positive mood is related to affiliative behavior, thus a retailer seeks methods to enhance consumer mood in order to induce "approach" (rather than "avoidance") behavior, such as spending more time and money in the store, enjoying the shopping experience, and wishing to return.

The store image is a concept including a variety of factors such as merchandise, service, convenience, promotional activities, prices, and "atmospherics". The term "atmospherics" refers to the managerial effort to design buying environments to produce specific emotional states in the buyer that enhance the probability of purchase. Managers can manipulate the design of the building, the interior space, aisle layout, carpet and wall textures, scents, colors, shapes, and sounds experienced by the customers. Thus store image is a result of many variables which can be manipulated by the retailer to influence consumer mood and, subsequently, the buyer's behavior. Since the store image can in this way be considered a stimulus and the consumer's mood an organismic variable, the study is cast into the S-O-R framework. The path of influence is shown in table 1.

Data were collected from 907 respondents at the point of purchase. Moods are transient, and collecting field data in a natural setting offers a solution to the problem of retroactivity measuring them. In addition, actual behavior has just occurred and is easily remembered. Scales developed in previous research were used to measure store image, mood, and behavior.

Analysis of the data using LISREL revealed a good fit of the data to both the measurement and structural model. There is a significant positive influence of store image on mood, and a significant positive influence of moods on the response variables. With mood as an intervening variable, the influence of store image on the outcomes is negative and insignificant. Without it, the effect of store image on the outcome is positive and highly significant. The goodness of fit indices are c2=252.15, 27 df; GFI=.944; AGFI=.89; RMSR=.064; Bentler and Bonett index=.91.

These findings imply that store image, as a manipulative variable, can influence a buyer's mood, and that this atmosphere - induced mood may enhance affiliative behaviors within the store; e.g., spending more time and money than planned, intention to revisit. Whereas cognitive factors may largely account for store selection and for most planned purchases within the store, emotional reaction to the store's environment may influence unplanned purchasing, extra spending, and time spent inside the store. Thus, retailers have the opportunity to enhance such affiliative behavior by manipulating a controllable variable: the atmosphere of the store and its resulting image to the consumer.

TABLE 1

----------------------------------------