Consumer Behavior Atmospherics

Consumer Behavior

Situational Influences and Atmospherics

The three major situational influences are Time, Place and Conditions.

  • Time—If a customer is in a hurry or the store is crowded this can change the way information is processed. The customer may not have time to consider all the brand alternatives and this will affect what they purchase.
  • Point‑of‑purchase displays can attract attention to a brand and produce a greater likelihood of purchasing that brand. For example, an end‑of‑aisle display featuring a particular brand of snack food will increase purchases of this brand over normal shelf sales.
  • Color—colors mean different things to different cultures, and the store (or website) needs to have full understanding of colors and their meanings. Colors are used to affect customers and in most cases they won’t even know it!  In the US red is an energy color and is often used to stimulate the appetite, where as blue is a calming color. 
  • Smell—the study of smell and how they affect shopping habits is just beginning, however we already know one thing—if a store smells bad, customers won’t shop long!
  • Music—music influences a customers’ mood. Slow tempo music relaxes the customer and causes them to linger in the store longer, whereas fast tempo music may be better for stores and restaurants that need rapid turnover. Music isn’t just about speed, the type of music must match the store. A Texas barbeque themed restaurant would attract more customers with country music rather than pop music.
  • Crowds—are always going to lead to negative shopping experiences. The more crowded a store is the more likely customers are going to feel confined and unhappy and will find a way to spend less time in the store and may make uninformed shopping decisions.
  • Promotional deals, such as cents‑off sales or 2‑for‑the‑price‑of‑1, offer an economic purchase incentive. This is done quite often in the promotion of frequently purchased products like toothpaste.
  • Stock‑out means that a store has run out of a product (or has not restocked the product) and this can lead to brand switching or store switching. There are several things a customer would do in this situation:
CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR IN A STOCKOUT SITUATION

PURCHASE BEHAVIOR

Buy a substitute product at the original store, this may replace the intended brand for future purchases

Wait to purchase until the intended product is available

Not make any purchase

Purchase the intended brand at another store

VERBAL BEHAVIOR

Consumer makes negative comments about the original store

Consumer makes positive comments about the substitute store

Consumer makes positive comments about the substitute product

ATTITUDE CHANGE

Consumer has a negative attitude about the original store

Consumer has a positive attitude about the substitute store

Consumer has a positive attitude about the substitute product

Retail outlets are physical (or virtual online) stores that sell product/services. Manufacturing companies make the products that retail outlets sell.  Retail outlets can be an independent retailer, a chain store or a franchise.  An independent retailer usually only has one location and is a small business owned by a person or group of people.  A chain store is a store with many locations throughout a region. A franchise is when a corporation sells partial ownership of their store locations to local businesspeople. The owner then runs the store for the corporation and in turn makes a percentage of the sales as profit. McDonald’s is perhaps the best known franchise in the world.  There are several different types of retail outlets, each with its own level of service and product assortment. The amount of gross margin a company makes often depends on their level of product turnover. The less product turnover a company has the more likely they are to need high prices in order to make a profit.  Here is a chart with some examples of the different types of retail outlets:

Chart of Retail Outlets

Type of Retailer

Example

Service Level

Product Assortment

Price

Gross Margin

Description

Department Store

Macy’s, Bloomingdales, JC Penny

Medium to High

Wide

High

High

Due to the high overhead and the exclusivity, product doesn’t  turnover quickly so prices are high, and profit must be made off of the price

Specialty Store

Harley Davidson Store, Pet Smart, IKEA

High

Narrow

Medium to High

High

Sell only special items in one category and therefore don’t have high turnover so profit must be made off of prices

Supermarket

Kroger, A&P, Publix, Albertsons

Low

Wide

Low to High

Low

Profit is made from turnover of product and the number of customers—if more customers come into the store they will have more sales; and the more time customers are in the store the more money they will spend

Convenience Store

7-11, Shell, Exxon, BP

Low

Narrow

High

Medium to High

Usually a small store attached to a gas station—prices are high due to the small selection and the lack of options by the customer

Drugstore

Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid

Low (high at the pharmacy counter)

Medium

Medium

Low

A store with a limited selection of convenience items with a pharmacy counter inside

Full-Line Discounter (Big Box Store)

Wal-Mart, Target, www.amazon.com

Low to Medium

Wide

Low to Medium

Low

Profit is made from turnover of product and the number of customers—if more customers come into the store they will have more sales; and the more time customers are in the store the more money they will spend

Supercenter

Wal-Mart Supercenter, Super Target

Low to Medium

Wide

Low to Medium

Low

A Full-Line Discounter with a grocery store attached

Specialty Discounter

Ross, Marshalls, www.overstock.com

Low

Medium

Low to Medium

Low

These stores sell product that did not sell at more expensive stores. Products are usually brand names, prices are lower and store usually specializes in one type of product—such as clothes and shoes.

Warehouse Club

Costco, Sam’s Club

Low

Wide

Low (but have to buy in bulk)

low

Customers have to pay a membership fee to shop; Product is sold in bulk; Wide product assortment including groceries, home goods and electronics at discounted prices

Off-Price Retailer

Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar

Low

Narrow to Medium

Low

Low

These stores sell product that did not sell at other stores. Prices are lower and there is a high rotation of product so the store may not sell the same products all the time.

Thrift Store

Salvation Army, Goodwill

Low

Medium

Very Low

Very Low

Products are donated and have been used by other people. Prices are extremely low and most of the profit is given to charity.

Restaurant

McDonalds, Starbucks, La Bernadin (in New York City)

Very Low to Very High

Very Narrow

Very Low to Very High

Low to High

An establishment that serves food prepared by chefs in a kitchen; this can range from fast food to a lavish 10 course sit down meal.  Prices vary according to service level. Product is narrow because restaurants specialize in one type of food category.

  • Place—the décor, furniture, colors and clothing of the employees will affect the motivation of the consumer. For example, a restaurant selling seafood seems to have more credibility in an “ocean” themed décor environment.
  • Conditions—Women tend to purchase more when they shop with friends, taking your kids to the grocery store increases your likelihood of spending more money 150% because parents shopping with children are more likely to be influenced by the product preferences of their children.  Climate will affect purchases, if it is cold outside you would be more likely to purchase a hot drink.

Marketers have researched customer behavior enough to know that certain environmental factors will affect their shopping habits—smell, lights, music, colors, crowds, safety and employees. The term for this research is called atmospherics. Atmospherics is the physical manipulation of the store environment (physical or online) to change the mood of the customer. Creating a positive store environment causes people to stay in the store longer and the longer a customer spends in a store the more money they are likely to spend. Creating positive feelings about a store also generates loyal customers and repeat shopping visits.

  • Physical Features—décor, lights, sounds, weather, employee clothing, store layout and visible configuration of shelves and merchandise.  All of these things combine to create feelings in customers. A department store that wants to sell expensive clothing needs to have stylish fixtures, colors and furnishings, and the employees should fit into this stylish atmosphere. Sales personnel can often persuade a consumer to purchase or not purchase a particular brand based on their mood, attitude, clothing and knowledge of the products. Store layout can also affect brand purchase as well as the total in‑store expenditure. Grocery stores are arranged to maximize exposure to items not routinely purchased while obtaining normal grocery purchases.

Published by

Tim Friesner

Marketing Teacher designs and delivers online marketing courses, training and resources for marketing learners, teachers and professionals.