Store Design and Experience-Orientated Consumers in Retailing: a Comparison Between the United States and Germany



Citation:

Andrea Groppel (1993) ,"Store Design and Experience-Orientated Consumers in Retailing: a Comparison Between the United States and Germany", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 99-109.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993      Pages 99-109

STORE DESIGN AND EXPERIENCE-ORIENTATED CONSUMERS IN RETAILING: A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY

Andrea Groppel, University of Paderborn, Germany

SUMMARY

A lot of retail-specialists in Europe and the US believe that positioned retailing (like the strategy of emotional benefits) will have a large impact on the future of international retailing. This concept consists of identifying a target market and developing a unique retail offerering, designed to meet the needs and shopping motives of the target segment and to increase store loyalty. The major component of the store image is the store atmosphere which can be defined as the dominant sensory effect created by the store's design, physical characteristics and merchandising activities. Environmental psychology makes a valuable contribution to the investigation of store atmosphere. Using environmental psychology as a theoretical basis, various empirical studies in Germany and the US are discussed, which show how store design can be optimized.

CHANGES IN RETAILINGBA CHALLENGE FOR CONSUMER RESEARCH

In times of increasing market saturation stores tend to resemble one another and offer comparable products at comparable prices, thereby losing profile. The exchangeability is often explained by the "wheel of retailing theory", first developed by McNair (1931) to describe the changes in retailing in the United States. In the fifties, Nieschlag developed a similar theory to explain retailing cycles in GermanyBevidently without being aware of Mc Nair's concept: An efficient innovatory form of retailing (such as discounting) enters the market and attracts the public by its new appeal, especially by very low prices. During the periods of growth and maturity, market shares are risen. After these phases the responsible marketing managers consider trading-up to be necessary. The innovatory stores try to emulate established retailers and ultimately become high cost, high price retailers once again vulnerable to the next innovator. Though today this controversial theory is still discussed in the western world, it applies to a number of retail types besides the discount house: the supermarket, furniture warehouse, off price store, and box store. Moreover there are a lot of examples supporting the basic idea that stores tend to resemble one another in the long run. Many practitioners fear an increase in price competition and the elimination of marginal stores. Besides there have been changes internationally in the major environmental factors. The factors affecting retailing are (Berman and Evans, 1989; Burstiner, 1991; Tietz, 1986; Groeppel, 1991):

B Demographic factors

Today in the western world there is an increase in the relative size of the older age group, a rising number of 1-person or 1-parent households, a growing number of working women and a rising level of education.

B Economic factors

In the period after World War II the standard of living of the western population, the real personal disposable income per head and the penetration of consumer durables grew. Parallel to this development, high labour costs led firstly to an enormous reduction of small retailers particularly in the food sector and secondly promoted the self service system. In the nineties, a diametrically opposed development is to be expected: A decrease in disposable income (due to higher taxes, an increasing inflation rate, higher rents, higher costs for pollution control etc.) on the one hand and an increase of property assets by inheritance on the other hand. This development is one reason why a lot of practitioners anticipate a polarity between low-price mass merchandisers and "higher-priced", "high value offer"-retailers.

B Cultural and social factors

Individuals are becoming more self centered and show a greater need for self expression. People pay more attention to quality of life, healthy living and concern for the environment. Lifestyles have changed in Europe as well as in the United States (Mitchell, 1984). These marked demographic, economic and lifestyle changes have led to a "new type of consumer" who strives after self-actualization and attempts to demonstrate and realize individuality through the goods market. In addition the new consumers wish to conduct their shopping in an out-of-the-ordinary ambience.

B Natural factors

We have to contend with problems of pollution, energy shortage and the depletion of natural resources. New shops could be established that show concern for these natural factors, e.g. the "Body Shop", which sells cosmetics made entirely of natural ingredients (animal testing of products is not allowed). The Body Shop concept has been successful all over the western world.

B Technological factors

Key issues are: Introduction of electronic point of sales equipment, mini robots, laser videodiscs, magic mirrors, introduction of electronic fundtransfer systems, tele-shopping. Japaneses enterprises hold a leading position in this technological domain (e.g. Seiju).

B Internationalization in retailing

More and more retailers are attempting to expand in foreign countries through franchising, joint venture or direct investment strategies. International competition is growing. Well-known successful examples are: Benetton, Esprit, Toys "R" Us, A&P, Carrefour, Woolworth. International retailing is intensified by the European Market.

B Implications of the European Market 1992

Implications of the European Market can be summarized in a few sentences: International retailer expansion and an increase in the concentration process in retail trade. There will be many new joint ventures and other cooperative agreements, participating investments and outright acquisitions and mergers. These forms of corporate concentration intensify the pressure for international growth. Therefore there will be more European retailers operating overseas. Because of new competition American retailers may lose part of their market share in the domestic market and will be forced to increase their level of internationalization. Apart from this concentration, the psychological focus of 1992 will accelerate the process by which global products meet target consumer segments of all nationalities. There are predictions that specialty and niche retailors will be successful in the international competition, because it is easier for them to identify and serve cross cultural target groups (Tietz, 1989).

Internationalization in retailing is a special challenge for consumer research. Retailers need information about enviromental factors and consumer behaviour in the foreign markets. In developing international stategies, retailers must pay particular attention to the concept of standardization. The question is, wether the strategy followed in the domestic market can be standardized and applied directly to the foreign markets (=globalization, like Toys "R" Us), or wether personnel, the structure of outlets, advertising, assortment have to be adapted to local conditions and needs.

EMOTIONAL BENEFIT ORIENTATION AND RETAIL STRATEGIES

Many retailers fear a "crowding-out of competition" in the nineties and the question frequently asked is how customer loyalty can be established. Store positioning becomes more and more important. Following Porter's competitive strategies (1980) there are three potentially sucessful strategic approaches to outperforming other retail firms:

- overall cost leadership

- differentiation

- focus (serving a particular target very well either by differentiation or by lower costs).

The approach of emotional benefit [The terms "emotional benefit store" and "experience orientated store" are used synonymously.] marketing belongs to the differentation strategies. A shop has to offer a specific "emotional benefit". This is the subjectively experienced contribution to the quality of life of the consumer conveyed by the place of purchase (Weinberg, 1986; Groeppel, 1991). Consumers need to perceive emotional benefit stores as being unique. [Bermans and Evans (1989) also emphasize the challenge of creating a unique retailing position in the United States.] Shops that create buying experiences for their customers should be full of surprises and should evoke an entirely pleasurable atmosphere.

The following four specific research objectives are critical:

(1) Which characteristics generate experience-orientated buying?

(2) What type of consumers is attracted by such stores? What is the lifestyle of this group?

(3) What are the consequences for shop-design (visual merchandising)?

(4) What is the implication of these results for cross-cultural research?

LIFESTYLE RESEARCH AND SHOPPER-TYPOLOGIES

The survival and prosperity of a store using the positioning strategy is contingent on catering appropriately to well-defined market segments. In the following section some interesting American shopper-typologies basing on socio-demographic and psychographic data are discussed (Groeppel and Bloch, 1990).

Tauber's (1972) investigation of different shopping motives is one of the first studies which provides useful background information to this subject. Tauber differentiates between various types of consumers with different shopping motives. Three of these are of special interest. Self gratification entails alleviating depression by spending money. The shopping process is motivated not by the utility of consumption, but by the buying process itself. Physical activity may appeal to people living in a congested urban environment, who might welcome the opportunity to walk in spacious shopping malls. Sensory-Stimulation-Seekers enjoy the phyisical sensation of handling merchandise, pleasant background music and scents.

Building on such research as that of Hansen and Deutscher (1977), Crask and Reynolds (1978) and Sproles (1979), Tatzel (1982) out-lines a shopper typology for clothing stores, dividing consumers into three groups. The "fashion conscious consumer" is venturesome, confident, gregarios and orientated to the outside world. The "independent consumer" is a competent person, but who does not place much value on shopping, taking a practical, businesslike approach to the purchasing of clothing. The "apathic" shopper dislikes shopping, conducts the activity in the minimum time and takes a pervasively negative view of the shops themselves.

Westbrook and Black (1985) emphasize different elements of shopper motivation. They differentiate between seven shopping-motives:

B "anticipated utility" = expectation of benefits which will be provided by the product to be acquired through shopping,

B "role enactment"= culturally prescribed roles regarding the conduct of shopping activity, such as careful price and product comparisons,

B "negotiation" = motivation to seek economic advantage through bargaining interactions with sellers,

B "choice optimization" = wish to buy the "absolute optimum",

B "affilation" = motivation to affiliate with other shoppers or retail merchants,

B "power and authority" = wish to be superior to the retail personnel,

B "stimulation" = motivation to seek novel and interesting stimuli from the retail environment.

Westbrook and Black interviewed about 200 female consumers, who could be classified by a cluster analysis into six groups. Two groups are of special interest: People of the first segment can be characterized as high involved shoppers. The members of this cluster persue all the above mentioned shopping motives. The second group is reminiscent of the "apathic shopper" of Tatzel.

Using Westbrook's and Black's shopping motives as a basis, Dawson Bloch and Ridgway examined the impact of shopping motives on emotions and on retail preference and choice. Their results show that consumers with strong product or experiential motives report the most pleasure and arousal in the marketplace. Product-oriented motives are determined by purchasing needs or the desire to acquire product information. Experiential motives have a hedonistic or recreational orientation. People with experiential shopping motives regard shopping as a leisure-time activity and a stimulating entertainment. Dawson et al. do not only investigate the relationsship between shopping motives and emotions, they try to integrate their theses within the environmental psychological model of Mehrabian and Russell (1974). In this model (see next section) pleasure and arousal are important intervening variables.

TABLE 1

CITED EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATIONS BASED UPON ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

Two conclusions can be drawn from the results of the various American studies:

(1) The results indicate a polarity between high-involved shoppers on the one hand, who like shopping and the exciting retail environment (this group corresponds with the discussed "new type of consumer") and uninterested consumers on the other hand, who regard shopping as a necessary evil. The question is wether similar results can be found in Europe and in Germany.

(2) The model of environmental psychological behaviour by Mehrabian and Russell may be used as a principle theoretical framework.

ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY AND STORE DESIGN

Environmental psychology can be defined as "that segment of psychology concerned with the systematic accounting of the relationship between person and environment" (Russell and Ward, 1982). Environmental theories can roughly be divided into cognitive and emotional approaches (Kroeber-Riel, 1990). In the last decade there have been many studies concerning store layout based upon environmental psychology. The following table gives an overview of the empirical investigations discussed in this text.

EMOTIONAL APPROACHES OF ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

Using the SOR-Scheme as a basis, Mehrabian and Russell (1974) developed a model of environmental psychological behaviour. Various environmental stimuli (colours, music, shapes etc.) engender primary emotional responses, which, as intervening variables, determine reactions to that environment. The evaluation of environmental stimuli is also dependent on different personality types. The model consists of four different groups of variables.

a) The stimulus variables (S)

Mehrabian and Russell characterize the various stimuli of the environment with the help of the "information rate", which they define as the quantity of information drawn from or perceived in the environment per unit of time. That is, the more varied, novel, surprising and lively is the environment, the higher will be the information rate.

b) The intervening variables (I)

These environmental stimuli generate primary emotional reactions in an individual, which can be described on three fundamental emotional dimensionsBpleasure, arousal and dominance.

c) The personality variables (P)

Mehrabian (1987, p.28) explains that people vary in the degree to which they are hedonistic or pleasure orientated dominant receptive to environmental psychology (=arousal seeking tenency). Receptive individuals react strongly to a stimulating environment, they attempt to hear, see, smell etc. more than other people.

d) The reaction elements

The reaction variables can be subsumed in the two basic categories of "approach" (which could also be termed "convergence") and "avoidance". Approach or convergence means that an individuum reacts positively to the environment. Avoidance is characterized by an aversion to the environment.

In various investigations concerning store design the environmental model of Mehrabian and Russell was used as a theoretical framework.

American Research

Donovan and Rossiter (1982) considered store atmosphere to be an intervening variable in the model of Mehrabian and Russell. The Donovan and Rossiter research found out that store-induced arousal and particular store-induced pleasure are very powerful determinants of approach/avoidance reactions. Pleasure and arousal influence consumers' stated (1) enjoyment of shopping in the store, (2) time spent browsing and exploring store offerings, (3) willingness to talk to sales personnel, (4) tendency to spend more money than originally planned and (5) likelihood of returning to the store.

As mentioned before, Dawson et al. (1990) confirmed that the intervening variables of pleasure and arousal are influenced by the intensity of shopping motives which can be characterized as product oriented or experiential. Another interesting question would be wether there is a relationship between shopping motives and the personality variables of Mehrabian and Russell.

German Research

Bost (1987) was concerned with in the information rate of supermarkets. In contrast with Donavan and Rossiter, he demonstrated that there is a significant positive correlation between a high environmental information rate and a positive consumer mood. Bost recommends raising the information rate of supermarkets by an original store design.

TABLE 2A

FACTOR STRUCTURE OF ITEMS OF BUYER BEHAVIOUR

Diller and Kusterer (1986) were mainly interested in the behavioural responses of different store concepts in Germany. They were concerned with time spent in the shops, likelihood of returning to the stores, turnover, sales quotas, return on investment and other economic ratios. Original and attractive stores performed significantly better with respect to these variables than stores with a normal atmosphere.

Conclusions

The various relevant studies in the United States and Germany show that the theoretical model of Mehrabian and Russell is a valuable framework for generating hypotheses concerning store layout and atmosphere which have been confirmed in different empirical investigations. Another particulary compelling element of the model is the differentiation of people according to their openmindedness to exciting stimuli and to a pleasure-orientated way of life. American findings concering different shopper-typologies show that there might be a polarity between highly invol-ved shoppers (concerning product-oriented or experiential motives) on the one hand and apathic or at least uninterested shoppers on the other hand. In the following, people who have a hedonistic and openminded life-style, i.e. people who gladly expose themselves to exciting stimuli ("nonscreeners") will be described as "sensualists", people who have a very low arousal seeking tendency ("screeners") and prefer calm settings are described as "indolent" buyers.

Research Problems

The fundamental question is whether the clients of a German department store can in principle, be divided into sensualists and non-sensualists and whether the cluster of sensualistic consumers is the right target group for emotional benefit stores.

If "sensuality" is a personality variable, then not only the shopping motives of consumers will have to be analysed but the whole lifestyle. The lifestyle can be measured by questions on shopping behavior and leisure-time activities (Kroeber-Riel, 1990, p.582). There should be significant differences between sensual and indolent consumers. Sensualists should react positively to the above mentioned activities. Furthermore, there should be differences in the functional and emotional evaluation of an experience-orientated department store between the particular consumer segments. The research hypotheses are as follows:

H1: Central hypothesis: In the environment of an experience-orientated departmental store specializing in clothing, there are distinct consumer segments which can be characterized as either sensual or indolent.

Subsidiary hypotheses: If the central hypothesis is valid, then, with respect to "sensualists"

H1a: Bthe emotional impression created by the clothing store is more favourable;

H1b: Bthe functional operation of the clothing store is evaluated more positively;

H1c: Bthe customer's mood during shopping is more pleasurable than that of all other customer groups.

Empirical Findings [In the following only the most important results can be explained. For further information see Groppel 1991.]

Over two successive years, nearly 560 customers of a department store specialized in clothing, in Paderborn/Germany were interviewed about their leisure-time and purchasing behaviour as well as their impressions and attitudes toward the store. Rating-scales formed the basis of the research instrument. The shop can be characterized as an emotional benefit store.

A factor analysis was applied to the item batteries of purchasing and leisure-time behaviour questions (see table 2) to avoid implicit weighting and to establish primary dimensions. A cluster analysis (quick cluster) was used next to classify the clients into discrete market segments (see table 3). The factor values of purchasing behaviour and lifestyle questions formed the data base. This segmentation was done in 1987 and in 1988. The results of 1987 are compared with the results of 1988 in table 3.

Dimension 1 shows what consumers understand by or expect from emotional benefit orientated retail outlets. Customers consider purchasing not only as a means of securing necessary goods, but also as a leisure time activity. Consequently, they desire shopping which is characterized by positive interaction and stimulating, novel and exciting experiences. This dimension is similar to the shopping motive "stimulation" of Westbrock and Black (1985), respectively of the experiential shopping motive of Dawson et al. (1990).

Interpretation of the cluster analysis [Three different groups could be identified by the cluster analysis. For the following discussion, the third cluster (it is the smallest group) is of no account and can be ignored.]

Cluster 1: The "indolent buyers"

Table 3 shows two different clusters. The first cluster can generally be regarded as uninterested in shopping which they regard as a burden. In contrast to those customers in the second cluster, they desire neither an interesting shopping experience, nor to become communicative. Furthermore for this cluster, the uninterested indolent attitude tends to manifest itself in a broader spectrum of leisure-time activities. With the exception of culture all other leisure-time activities (e.g. sociability) meet with no interest. The indolent consumers are indifferent towards an exciting and interactive way of life. Their involvement is very low.

TABLE 2B

FACTOR STRUCTURE OF LIFESTYLE-ITEM POOLS

TABLE 3

RESULTS OF THE CLUSTER ANALYSIS 1987/1988

Cluster 2: The "sensualists"

The buyers of the second cluster are open-minded in many aspects of their life and come close to the theoretical model of arousal-seekers and to the highly involved consumers of Westbrook and Black (1985) or to the experiential-oriented shoppers of Dawson et al. (1990). The sensualists show an above-average interest in the factor of experience buying. For them, shopping is a pleasant spare-time activity. They desire a thorough shopping experience and contact with friends or people with similar preferences. Besides, they like talking to the sales personnel and value their dvice. When the women in this group are questioned about their leisure-time activities, there is evidence of a high level of open-mindedness with respect to a variety of activities. Sensualists are interested in culture, they love sociability and have a predilection for comfortable hotels and restaurants. This group may be regarded as "hedonistic". These consumers can generally be characterized by a receptiveness towards many stimuli in the environment. In 1987 and 1988, the hypotheses concerning the evaluation of an department store were analysed. In both years the hypotheses 1a to 1c were confirmed. Sensual consumers evaluate the clothing store significantly more favourably and experience a better mood than the indolent consumers. Figure 1 and 2 show the 1987 results.

In 1988 not only were the above mentioned theses examined, but also the question was asked, which in-store marketing ideas should be taken into account with respect to the different customer segments. If the sensualists can be described by the characteristics of being open-minded and arousal-seekers, then they will make heavy demands on the assortment and the decoration of the store interior.

FIGURE 1

EVALUATION OF THE DEPARTMENT STORE RESULTS OF THE ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE

FIGURE 2

CONSUMERS' MOOD AT THE POINT OF SALES SENSUAL VS. INDOLENT CONSUMERS

H2: In comparison to the indolent buyers, sensualists request more exciting stimuli at the point of sales and request a higher individuality concerning the arrangement of the assortment.

The empirical findings show that sensualistic consumers request more stimuli at the point of sales than the indolent consumers:

- they desire special events in a shop (like fashion shows) more frequently,

- they attach greater importance to sales talk, to an individual and extraordinary assortment of goods and to a store atmosphere that is full of surprises

- and they set a higher value on the visual merchandising concept of the store.

Discussion

The empirical studies of 1987 and 1988 show the following results:

- The environmental psychological model of Mehrabian and Russell is a valuable theoretical framework for cross cultural research. The American studies evince a polarity between high-involved and uninterested shoppers. This tendency can be confirmed by the investigations in Paderborn. Here the consumers are called either sensual or indolent. Furthermore, a high correlation between intervening variables (e.g. consumer's mood) and reaction variables (e.g. evaluation of the store) can again be observed. Donovan and Rossiter were the first to experience this relationship concerning American retail outlets. The empirical studies prove that the same relationship can be assumed in Germany.

- Therefore, in the United States as well as in Germany determinants that influence the mood of consumers at the point of sales should be analysed. Visual merchandising concepts that show an interplay between activating stimuli (-> high information rate) and desactivating stimuli (-> stress-reduction) seem to be successful. This thesis is supported by findings of the cognitive approaches of environmental psychology.

COGNITIVE APPROACHES OF ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

The memory representation of spatial information is called a "cognitive" or "mental" map. Some central questions in environmental cognition concern the nature of cognitive maps, the process of acquiring and forming such maps, and the use of cognitive maps in processes such as way findings or other spatial behaviour (Golledge, 1987, p.143). Irrespective of the culture, all individuals try to find their way in an unknown environment. Therefore the findings of environmental psychology are very useful for cross cultural research. In the following section empirical investigations concerning store design are discussed.

American Research

The goal of the empirical study of Sommer and Aitkens (1982) was to investigate the accuracy by which people are able to locate products in the store interior. In two American supermarkets customers were shown floor plans and were asked to specify the location of various product categories. Items in peripheral aisles were stated more frequently and accurately than items in central aisles. Accuracy was directly related to the frequency of patronage. Products in the middle of the store were not "registered" in the cognitive maps of the consumers, probably because of a lack of store characteristics that are visually striking (like escalators). Reference points are needed for forming mental maps.

Grossbart and Rammohan (1981) investigated the relationship between cognitive maps and shopping convenience in the center of a small American, midwestern city. They found significant correlations between the existence of shopping area maps (= knowledge about parking zones, localization of shops etc.) and sentiments regarding shopping convenience. Grossbart and Rammohan believe that city-planners as well as retailers should grapple with the imparting of verbal and nonverbal information, in order to improve the internal mental maps of consumers.

German Research

Bost (1987) was interested not only in the information rate of a store environment, but also in the orientation pleasantness of a store layout. Refering to the suggestion of Grossbart and Rammohan he investigated the idea that structual store stimuli (like reference points, a clear store layout system with directories, a clear separation of different assortments etc.) facilitate orientation in supermarkets and form a pleasant, stress-free shopping atmosphere. By means of an empirical study he could confirm his hypothesis that a high orientation influences positively the mood of customers at the point of sales. The central (dependent) variable in Bost's experiment is consumer mood which can be improved by an optimal interplay of activating and relaxing stimuli in the store layout.

Conclusion

Studies in the USA and in Germany show that there is a close relationship between mental maps, guidelines and the mood of consumers. Store designers have to attach importance to a clearly structured store layout and space utilization as well as to an impressive presentation of goods. In this context the question is frequently asked, if a bundled presentation, where the goods relate to a particular theme (=merchandise theme), can meet these requirements. An indication of this idea is that the products presented have a close relationship to each other, one product is like a mental cue or anchor for the next one. The linkage of products can relieve overloaded cognitive processes, resulting in a a better mood. This point will be taken up again.

ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY AND VISUAL MERCHANDISING

Mehrabian (1987, S.178) criticises the fact, that in many stores related products (like coffee and filtering paper) are presented in different departments, through which the normal customer associations are destroyed. This may lead to the following reactions:

- the customer forgets what he/she wants to buy,

- the demand for additional or related products is not created.

Mehrabian suggests stimulating natural associations of consumers. He is supported by Konig (a German store-designer), who argues that all customers are endowed with a so-called "episodical memory". This means that customers expect related products (=products that they use together) in close proximity to one another. A bundled presentation will relieve not only the cognitive processes of the customer, but can also lead to a positive mood. Furthermore, the goods display forms an important part in the effectiveness of a merchandise theme. The combination approach has to be supported by a display that is closely related to the range of use of the products. The relationship of products and the corresponding display can be found out by association tests.

In the third empirical investigation the following hypotheses have to be analysed:

H3a: A bundled presentation of goods with compatible displays (=merchandise theme) evokes

- a higher information rate,

- a better functional evaluation,

- a higher individuality,

- a better orientation,

- a better mood and

- a higher willingness to spend time and money in the shop than an unbundled presentation.

H3b: If the merchandise theme evokes a high information rate then this presentation of goods will be prefered by people who have a strong experiential shopping motive.

FIGURE 3

EFFECTIVENESS OF A MERCHANDISE THEME BUNDLED VS. UNBUNDLED PRESENTATION

Hypotheses 3a and 3b must be tested to find out if the bundled presentation is a successful merchandising concept. In 1989, more than 420 consumers in Paderborn were asked about their attitudes concerning different store concepts [In the same year, the effectiveness of displays was analyzed, too. More than 100 test subjects were divided into two groups. The first group was asked about their impressions concerning a kitchen, in which there were no displays at all. The second group got the same questions, but this time the (same) kitchen was embellished with many accessories. The results of the variance analysis show that the kitchen with compatible displays was evaluated significantly better than the other one.]). Four different product categories were analysed: Women's clothing, shirts for men, coffee machines and tracking articles. Therefore, the consumers were divided into four groups. Within the four groups, the test subjects were again divided into two groups: the experimental and the control group. Concerning demographic variables, the two groups had the same structure. The experimental groups were shown pictures about store concepts with merchandising themes [In a pre-study at first German consumers were asked to form association chains concerning to given products and corresponding accessories. By these association tests, the relationship of products could be analyzed. The test-results helped to choose to right pictures for the experimental group.]), whereas the control group were shown pictures about store interiors that show an unbundled presentation. The analysis of variance (see figures 4 to 5) show that hypothesis 3a can be confirmed. The bundled presentation is prefered by the consumers. The spending and staying interest is higher, too [This result was confirmed by a field study in 1991, too. 500 persons were interviewed concerning the image of a department store chain. This retail firm possesses three out-lets in three comparable cities in Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany). In each outlet the same products are sold at the same prices, but the store interior concept differs from one store to the other. One of the analyzed stores presented merchandise themes. Here the measured image was best.]). The relationship between primary emotional responses and reaction variables, which was investigated by Donovan and Rossiter could be proved for Germany as well.

The test subjects were also asked about their attitudes concerning experience-orientated buying. Figure 6 shows that all people evaluate the bundled presentation in a positive way. But those consumers, who have a strong experiential shopping motive are extremely impressed by the merchandising theme. Therefore hypthesis 3b is also confirmed.

FINAL DISCUSSION

The following findings can be noted:

B Internationalization tendencies become more and more important for retailing.

B In the United States as well as in Germany similar changes concerning the major environmental factors are evident. In both countries, "a new type of consumer" who likes to shop in an out-of-the-ordinary ambience can be identified.

B The environmental psychological behaviour model of Mehrabian and Russell is a valuable theory of in-store-behaviour which helps to separate different consumer types.

B The deduced hypotheses were confirmed in American and German studies. Therefore, the theoretical model not only stands up to reality but provides an important contribution to cross cultural research.

B Furthermore, the cognitive approaches of environmental psychology are also significant for cross cultural research. The empirical investigations in Germany and in the USA show that consumers need special cues or anchors to simplify their orientation in stores. Guidelines have a favourable effect on the mood of consumers. In addition to thatBespecially with respect to the sensualistsBa high in-store information rate (surprising, novel, exciting stimuli) can influence the primary emotional responses of consumers in a positive way, too. Consumers in the United States and Germany react positively to an optimal interplay of activating and disactivating stimuli.

B The ideas of environmental psychology helped to confirm the finding that a bundled presentation with compatible displays is an useful merchandising concept. By means of empirical investigations in Germany, this hypothesis was confirmed. Furthermore, the presentation of a goods theme is the best visual merchandising concept for consumers who are interested in experiential shopping. When using this merchandising concept, stores offer an emotional benefit and by this differentiation strategy they can outperform other retail firms.

B The basis for arranging a merchandise theme is to find out the association chains of consumers. For further studies, it would be interesting, to investigate wether customers in different countries form the same association chains. Currently, Swedish retail firms try to group corresponding food articles by using internationally well-known recipes. Perhaps this is a new "globalization-strategy" for food retailers.

FIGURE 4

CONSUMERS' MOOD AND MERCHANDISE THEMES

BUNDLED VS. UNBUNDLED PRESENTATION

FIGURE 5

SPENDING INTEREST

BUNDLED VS. UNBUNDLED PRESENTATION

FIGURE 6

EVALUATION OF A MERCHANDISE THEME AND EXPERIENTIAL SHOPPING-MOTIVES

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Authors

Andrea Groppel, University of Paderborn, Germany



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1993



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