Dr. Johannes Coloma-Flecker: “Research shows that music reduces stress. Not a big surprise, but it actually reduces the cortisol levels in our brain that are responsible for stress. Also, something that we should not underestimate it helps us with our agility”.
Atmospherics, Pleasure And Arousal: The Influence Of Response Moderators in a Shopping Mall
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Atmospherics, Pleasure And Arousal: The Influence Of Response Moderators in a Shopping Mall
The pressure to develop cost-effective retail design solutions has heightened the need to understand better the atmospherics behaviour relationship. Drawing upon a review of salient literature, this paper develops a conceptual model highlighting the influence of response moderators, including expectations, familiarity with the environment and shopping motives. Using LISREL, the model is calibrated and tested through a survey of 1,000 shoppers within one of Europe’s largest, city centre shopping malls. Consumers with strong shopping motives are found to experience more pleasure and arousal; expectations also moderate the atm05pherics-mood states relationship. The shortcomings of measurement scales, developed in previous studies with student samples, when applied to real shoppers are also noted.
1. Stimulus screening is inversely proportional to the level of arousal. The degree of arousability for Non-Screeners, (shoppers who are sensitive to environmental stimuli), is higher compared to Screeners under the same stimuli. Given the cost of many retail environments, this finding may suggest opportunities for better targeting of this marketing variable. However, given the problems encountered by real shoppers when confronted with scales developed with students samples, more reliable ways would be required to segment high and low screeners.
2. Consumers with strong shopping motives experience the most pleasure. Shoppers who come into a retail establishment with strong shopping motives experience higher pleasure than shoppers without strong shopping motives. This does have implications for the promotion of large centres and stores, given the diversity of motives that contribute to this measure (see annex).
Consumers with strong shopping motives experience the most arousal. Shoppers who come into a retail establishment with strong shopping motives experience higher arousal than shoppers without strong shopping motives. This again points to the benefits of giving customers more positive reasons to visit, reasons which may in effect include the need for greater arousal. It must be remembered however that environmental conditions that generally create high arousal, such as loud music or high intensity colours/lighting, do not give pleasure to all customers.
3. What the consumers expect to find in the environment affects their perceived information rate. The degree of Novelty, Complexity and Spaciousness that the shoppers experience in the environment depends on their expectations. If their expectations are positively confirmed, they experience the environment as being more Novel, Complex and Spacious.
4. What the consumers expect to find in the environment affects their level of pleasure. If shoppers’ expectations are positively confirmed, they experience higher levels of pleasure. On the other hand if their expectations are negatively confirmed, they are likely to dislike the place.
5. Shoppers’ expectations are directly associated with the level of pleasure and perceived environment. The results show no relationship between expectations and level of arousal.
6. Familiarity with the environment does not affect the perceived environment or the mood states (pleasure-arousal), according to the results. The most probable reason for the lack of association between the above concepts is the method employed for measuring the familiarity of the environment. Apparently the frequency of visits is not a good predictor of the degree of familiarity of the respondents with the environment.
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Hypothesis 1: the load of the environment (perceived environment) is directly proportional to the level of arousal.
Hypothesis 2: stimulus screening is inversely proportional to the level of arousal.
Hypothesis 3: consumers with strong shopping motives experience the most pleasure and arousal.
Hypothesis 4: what the consumers expect to find in the environment affects how they perceive the environment and their level of pleasure and arousal.
Hypothesis 5: familiarity with the environment (frequency of visits) influences the degree of pleasure and arousal experienced, as well as the way the environment is perceived.
Hypothesis 6: shopping motives, personality traits, expectations from the visit, and familiarity with the environment moderate the relationship between perceived environment and shoppers’ mood states.
- A literature review of the last 20 years atmospherics studies.
- 1,000 shoppers
- Five different zones of one of Europe’s largest, city centre malls, the Arndale Centre in Manchester, UK.
- USREL VII, a linear structural equation modelling approach.
Four shopping moderators:
1. Familiarity with the environment,
2. Personality traits
3. Shopping motives
4. Expectations from the visit
a) Respondents ‘Expectations
The response of an individual to the environment depends partly on his/her expectations (Snodgrass et al., 1988). To what extent is the current visit meeting your expectations? (Much worse than expected, As expected and Much better than expected).
b) Emotional State
Respondents’ mood states, pleasure and arousal act as mediators between environmental stimuli and behaviour (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974).
Pleasure: Arousal Emotional Descriptors Pleased Satisfied Happy Bored Cheerful Annoyed UnsatIsfied Unhappy Relaxed Depressed.
Arousal: Stimulated Excited Aroused Sleepy Relaxed Calm Unaroused Wide awake.
c) Stimulus Screening
There are individual differences which are associated with consistent differences in the ability to automatically screen less important components of stimulation in various sensory channels (Mehrabian, 1977a). A measure of stimulus screening is proposed which is an inverse measure of arousability.
The question read: “Please indicate below the extent to which you agree of disagree with each of the following statements”. Four items were positively worded and four items were negatively worded. Seven point scale was used, ranging from “strongly disagree: to “strongly agree”.
– Rapid habituation: strong emotions have a lasting effect on me.
– Low general arousability: things usually don’t get me excited.
– Low arousability in novel or changing settings: I am strongly moved when many things are happening at once.
– Low arousability in multi-component or complex settings: my moods are quickly affected when I enter new places.
– Thermal screening: extremes in temperature don’t affect me a great deal.
– Auditory screening: I don’t react much to sudden loud sounds.
– Tactile and kinaesthetic screening: I am affected much by the feel of the texture of the clothes I wear,
– Ofactory screening: I am not one to be strongly moved by an unusual odour.
d) Information Rate
Mehrabian and Russell (1974) proposed a general measure of environmental stimulation called information rate or load of an environment. The load of the environment is assumed to be directly related to the degree of arousal induced by the environment.
Novelty: Common/Rare Familiar/Novel Usual/Surprising.
Spaciousness: Too big/Too small UnCrowded/Crowded Complex/Simple.
Complexity: Symmetrical/Non-symmetrical Repetitious/Varied
Uniform/Composed of unrelated parts.
The question read: “Please look around and notice what the environment looks like, sounds like, as well as what it smells like. Then indicate below the extent to which you think each word describes the environment”.
e) Familiarity with the Environment
According to adaptation theory (Russell and Lanious, 1984), familiarity with the environment influences the affective response (degree of pleasure and arousal).
How often do you come to THIS part of the centre?
– This is my first visit
– Daily or weekly
– Every two weeks
– Every 2-3 months
– Twice a year
– Once a year
f) Shopping Motives
Dawson et al. (1990), in a study of an outdoor crafts market, showed that consumers with strong product or experiential motives report the most pleasure and arousal.
Find a variety of new products
See new things
Find good proces
To eat/or drink something
To buy something
Keep up with the latest fashion
Watch other people
Enjoy the crowds
See and hear entertainment
Meet new people
Get out of the house
Experience interesting sights, sounds and smells
Have a break from work
To be with my iiiend(s)
H1. Perceived mood will mediate the relationship between congruence of background music and approach behavior.
H2. Co-creation will moderate the impact of congruence of background music on perceived mood.
H3a. Individuals with co-creation will perceive a positive mood regardless of the initial congruence of background music with a coffee shop environment.
H3b. Individuals without co-creation will perceive a positive mood only when background music is congruent with a coffee shop environment.