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Explain the Environment – Behavior Relationship for Retail Environments Essays

Environmental psychology is the study of relationships between environments and human behaviour, environments can range from work place, retail, hospitals, schools, natural environments and many more. These environment –behaviour relationships can show how not only behaviour changes in environments but behaviour can change environment in the same way, this means that the relationship can be interrelationships (Bell et al. , 2001).
We can look at the behaviour of humans in an environment and how when the environment is manipulated by atmosphere it can create a certain human outcome (Cassidy, 2003). Environmental psychology also looks at the influence environments have on mood (Bell et al. , 2001) When looking at environmental psychology in a setting such as a shopping centre we can look at the behaviour of people, whether their experiences are pleasant or unpleasant in this environment and their overall satisfaction a store (Bell et al. 2001; Bitner, 1992). On entering a retail environment we may encounter music, sent, various colours, lighting and feels, these may not be obvious to use but these elements create different atmospheres in a retail environment that can influence consumers behaviour when shopping, this retail environment can be a important factor in Environmental-Behaviour relationships (Quartier et al. , 2009).
Many studies have looked at the effects of stimuli on behaviour in retail. One main researcher into atmospherics in Kolter (1973) Kolter says atmospherics can influence consumers and are a new way of marketing products, Kolter defined atmosphere as music, feel, smell and sight (kotler, 1973). As more and more research goes into the atmospherics of a retail place, environments begin to be researched by more than just psychologists.
Many market researchers have realised they can manipulate the environments to change consumers behaviours, to gain the goal they are looking for, much of this is done at the point of purchase as they relishes that it is not just the product that influences buyers (Turley & Milliman; kotler, 1973). Kotler also believes that different atmospherics’ is a good way to attach the right target market for each shop (Billings, 1990). Although research done on store environments is hard to deem as reliable and prove strong effects this an be because the studies are measuring temporary emotion and when the research is conducted after the person has left to store in a different environment it is difficult to get a accurate recall of the participants emotions. Therefore, the research can be Unreliable (Billings, 1990). Mehrabian and Russell 1974 suggest that people have two different reactions to environments they are in, approach and avoidance (Bitner, 1992; Mehrabian & Russell, 1974). Mehrabian and Russell’s model is used as a framework to a lot of environmental psychology especially in store environments and marketing studies (Billings, 1990).
Mehbrabian and Russell’s model uses Pleasantness-Unpleasantness to relate to people feeling please, satisfied, happy, High and low Arousal to stimulated, aroused, relaxed, and bored and they use dominance to see how much the person feels in control or not in control. Although dominance does not seem to have much effect in studies there for the main ones used are Pleasantness and arousal (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974; Foxall et al. , 1994). Mehbrabain and Russell also say that pleasantness and arousal can also determine whether people approach or avoid things in different environments (Bitner, 1992).
Mehbrabain and Russell’s approach has been applied to retail environments by other researchers (Foxall et al. , 1994). Behavioural Response Approach Happy? Satisfied Emotional Responses Happy? Satisfied The Environment Example: Topshop This then created a Behavioural response to approach of avoid the environment or situation. Depending on the environment and its stimuli, it creates an emotional response. (Billings, 1990) Mehriahian and Russell say that high pleasure and arousal engorouges approach behaviour where as low pleasure and arousal create avoidance behaviour (Billings, 1990).
This is the basis of Mehriahian and Russell’s model they found that core emotional reactions are the same in most environments so there model can be adapted (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974). When adapted to a retail environment only pleasure and arousal seem to be useful for looking at consumer behaviour, Sweeney and Wyber (2002) study supported Mehriahian and Russell model (Mattila & Wirtz, 2001; Sweeney & Wyber, 2002). They found evidence that pleasure interacts with arousal and has an effect on approach-avoidance behaviour and that increased arousal increases approach behaviours in people (Sweeney & Wyber, 2002).
Various studies have looked into how stimuli in environments affect behaviour, for example colour, noise and lighting. In some environments, there can me multiple stimuli, this can make the environment complex and arousals higher or lower, normally if it is complex it can make arousal lower, this can be different depending on the persons characteristics (Billings, 1990). Reviews on pass studies have found that atmospherics can influence consumer’s behaviour and what and how they purchase things (Turley & Milliman, 2000).
Two of the biggest stimuli’s researched are music and colour. Music can affect people’s behaviour and mood, when this stimuli is places in a retail environment it can create interesting environmental-behaviour (Gueguen et al. , 2007; Sweeney & Wyber, 2002). Music is said to change moods and behaviour in general (Spangenberg et al. , 2005), positive music should create good moods, which brings out positive behaviour, general faster music is perceived ad exciting and slow music is perceived as more relaxing (Kellaris & Kent, 1994).
When music is present in an environment, it can influence the attitude for purchase (Morin et al. , 2007). In retail, it is said that music can have effect on customer’s behaviour in arousal effecting sales and how long they spend in the environment. Research done into music in retail shops has been completed a lot my Milliman (1982, 1906) (Turley & Milliman, 2000). Music is used in stores to create better atmosphere and mood for employees and customers, research on music is normally done in relation to attitudes not behaviour (Milliman, 1982).
Millimans study looked at the in store shopping behaviour when there is background music, he used three different variables, the first was no music at all, and the second slow tempo music and the third was fast tempo music in a supermarket. Milliman found that music does effect people’s behaviour in this situation, sales increased 38. 2% per day, this was because with higher tempo music the in store traffic increased and with low tempo in store traffic increase.
Milliman found the same type of effect in restaurants where low tempo music increased peoples spend especially as the low tempo music seemed to increase there stay (Milliman, 1982; Gueguen et al. , 2007). Other research also has shown that when loud music was playing in a supermarket customers spent less time in time shopping and when there was softer music they spend a lot longer time shopping (Gueguen et al. , 2007). Although behaviour changes or pro sales marketing outcomes can only be, strengthen if the music is in the right context for where it is applied (Kellaris & Kent, 1994).
Research done by North et al (1999) shows this, he found that French wines sold better when there was French music playing and not as well when there was German music playing (North et al. , 1999; Milliman, 1982; Gueguen et al. , 2007). These studies do show a positive impact on behaviour when music is used in the background of shops (Gueguen et al. , 2007). It is clear that music can have a great deal of impact on consumers and they can influence them considerably especially when it is used in an appropriate setting or paired with a matching product (Gueguen et al. , 2007; Spangenberg et al. , 2005; Herrington, 1996).
It is also hard to generalize work on music in supermarkets as it may not have the same effect on other retail environments (Herrington, 1996). Harrington’s (1996) worked on the effects of music on the service environment has show that shoppers showed more preference when shopping depending on what the background music was. Tempo and volume did not affect their time spent in store or money spent; therefore, he suggested retails could create a positive shopping environment by matching background music to shoppers, looking at the age of the customers through the days or the genre of the store (Herrington, 1996; Sweeney & Wyber, 2002).
Other factors have been studied to get more reliable results; Sweeney et al (2002) looked at how tempo and genre of music effected consumers levels or pleasure or arousal and the cognitive processing of this, they also look at musical preferences as researchers believe this could be a factor into why people spend the time they do in a store (Sweeney & Wyber, 2002; Herrington, 1996), to see the overall behaviours of people inside a retail environment. Sweeney and Wyber (2002) used music characteristics of tempo and genre, they used the top 40 and classical for the genre, set in a women’s fashion store.
Sweeney and Wyber (2002) found they found a clear effect from arousal-pleasure interaction to approach-behaviour that music and musical characteristics did have a significant effect on consumer’s cognitive and emotional behaviours. It also produces a significant effect on their approach behaviours (Sweeney & Wyber, 2002). Emotional reactions are attached significantly highest to scent, when we smell it is the strongest of the five senses to attach to emotion, although little research has been done on this in a retail environment (Michon & Chebat, n. . ). Scent in retail environments normally comes naturally, for example, soap or perfume shops but many retailers are using scents that relate to a product that could attract customers to it (Spangenberg et al. , 2005). This scent must be appropriate and fit with the other environments and stimuli used otherwise it can cause un-pleasantness to the consumer, When mixing sent with music the music will tiger the consumer to take notice of the sent creating feelings and moods (Spangenberg et al. , 2005).
Spangenberg hypothesised that when the scent and the music matched then it could create a positive effect but if the scent did not have matching music this could create a negative effect and therefore negative behaviour his study was produce to see if this could happen (Spangenberg et al. , 2005). When in a shop there is normally more than one stimulus around but two can be used to create a greater effect on the customers behaviour although this like other stimuli can only be used as a cue to the correct product otherwise there could be a negative emotion attached and could cause complexity and confusion for the customers (Spangenberg et al. 2005; Gueguen et al. , 2007). This can sometime create avoidance behaviour because of a feeling of unpleasantness use as irritation and discomfort (Bellizzi et al. , 1983). An example of two stimuli could be Colour and music, Sent and music to create a certain behavioural response. Spangenberg Et al (2005) looks at the use of smell and sound in relation to a Christmas theme (Spangenberg et al. , 2005). Retailers use stimuli’s very effectively when it comes to holiday seasons Spangenberg researches this as little research has been done investigating the affects of two stimuli before.
The different factors used where Christmas music and Non-Christmas music and a Christmas sent (Spangenberg et al. , 2005). It was found that people preferred the sent when there was Christmas music and there were positive behaviour. When there was sent and Non-Christmas music playing there was little or no effect when Non-Christmas music was being played and there was a negative behavioural interactions. Therefore, it shows that when used correctly and matched correctly the use of scent and music can have a positive effect on behaviour, although not as positive as one stimulus on its own.
It also creates a store atmosphere that is coherent and the environment with create positive behaviour in employees and consumers (Mattila & Wirtz, 2001) Mattila and Wirtz (2001) also did research into scent and music but did not base it on a holiday season. There research looked at matching ambient and scent at different scales, slow and fast tempo music and stimulating or relaxing scent. When putting these together they suggested that they would produce higher preface to the retail environment consumers are in, and behaviour would be more positive (Mattila & Wirtz, 2001).
Mittila and Writz suggests that when a arousal cue if matched, high arousal scent with high arousal music then it will enhance the retail environment and the potential behavioural relationships with customers, such as buying behaviours and approach or avoid behaviours. It was found that adding pleasant stimuli to a retail experience gave shoppers a better shopping experience; along with this finding, their overall findings matched their hyposensitise.
Matched arousal stimuli created positive approach behaviour, for example, when fast tempo music was played with a store scent of grapefruit this had a better effect then when it was paired with lavender as that is a low arousal scent (Mattila & Wirtz, 2001). Although spangenbergs et al (2005) and Mattila and Wirtz (2001) research shows how matched scent and music can create positive effects on behaviour in shoppers, there is a limitation in generalization; whether there research can be generalized over different types of retails store and at different times on the year.
Spangenbergs et al (2005) showed how scent and Christmas music could have a positive effect on the retail environment but his work is hard to generalise for all types of scent and music stimuli as it is based around Christmas. Mattila and Wirtz (2001) have the same problem there research was conducted on a gift shop which can have a different natural retail environment then other retail stores, therefore it could be hard to generalize over all types of retail environments (Spangenberg et al. , 2005; Mattila & Wirtz, 2001).
Marketing of products and retail stores need to have a visual effect on a person, to make them notice. Colours can influence things such as purchase rates, the time they spend in a store and arousal; it also attracts customers to displays (Turley & Milliman, 2000; Belizzi & Hite, 1992). Bellizzi, Crowley and Hasty (1983) found that colour of shops can seriously increase the customer’s attractions to shops and retailers use colour to made consumers feel like they want to buy things (Bellizzi et al. , 1983). Colour is a good way of doing this to draw attention to an advert or a product.
Psychological research has constantly found different psychological effects of colour over the years (Crowley, 1993). Colour is used all over retail; therefore, it is an interesting stimulus to research in environmental-behaviour relationships. Colours can cause emotions and associating with brands. It is said that red is a colour of arousal but also negative and tense and can create these feelings, where as blue is a relaxant, calm and positive colour, but colours can also be associated with brands like Cadbury with purple (Solomon, 1999; Belizzi & Hite, 1992; Bottomley & Doyle, 2006).
This is supported by Bellizze and Hite (1992) who tested the effects of red and blue in retail. When relating the colours blue and red to a retail setting in a libratory based study they found that there were more positive behaviour outcomes with blue, it was also found that people wanted to shop more in these environments (Belizzi & Hite, 1992). It is also found that red colours or warm colours can be used to create attention and draw people to stores, only some colours have the ability to create approach behaviour and when this happens, it also draws people to the promotional displays (Bellizzi et al. 1983). Bellizzi et al (1983) looked at three Hypotheses, ‘colour affects approach orientation, colour affects physical attraction and colour of a retail store display area affects consumer perception of the store environment and merchandise’. The hypnotises that colour can attract people is supported by Bellizzi et al (1983) study here where they found that colour has a significant associate with attraction although there was no significant difference in the choice of colour and there was no significant relationship with the orientation or approach behaviour and colours.
It was also found that red and blue colours where perceived as negative and positive, warm colours where seen more negative than cool colours in retail but where seen to relate to more up-to-date merchandise (Bellizzi et al. , 1983). Therefore, although participants may be drawn to red and yellow colours it can bring a negative effect, making them feel unpleasant which does not lead them to present approach behaviour.
Cooler colours were considered more pleasant environments. These findings do not show that warm colours do not act as a positive stimulus in the retail environment they show how at first contact warm colours can attract people into stores (Bellizzi et al. , 1983). Retailers can then change the environment inside to create a positive effect; this allows consumers to become aroused and find the experience pleasant, which stimulates approach behaviour (Bellizzi et al. , 1983).
All experiments carried out the effect of colour on behaviour have been laboratory-based studies therefore this makes it very had to generalize over a natural retail environment and therefore they studies can be unreliable. Although the do like clearly with general psychological research on the use of colour for emotion and moods (Turley & Milliman, 2000; Bottomley & Doyle, 2006). It can be seen that various environment stimuli can influence and affect consumers behaviour when in a retail environment from their pursues, there time in shops and their mood, this can be due to approach or avoidance behaviours.
When stimuli is matched it can make a more effective emotional outcome resulting in positive or negative consumer behaviour, although if not matched it can sometimes become a complex and negative environment (Bitner, 1992; Foxall et al. , 1994; Mehrabian & Russell, 1974). When looking at colour we find that bright and colourful colours can lead us to impulse buy, because of this a lot of higher priced stores use cooler colours to allow customers to feel positive and calm therefore allowing their behaviour to consist of spending more it in the store (Bellizzi et al. 1983; Belizzi & Hite, 1992). Music have a large effect on retail store environment-behaviour it can completely change the consumers behaviour, especially when the music is in context or match to products, tempo can clearly influence customers behaviour in there enjoyment of a shopping experience therefore lengthening the time they spend in a store (Gueguen et al. , 2007; Sweeney & Wyber, 2002; Milliman, 1982; Turley & Milliman, 2000).
Overall research done into retail environments can influence retailer in the decision on store layouts, promotions and point of purchase, to help maximise there profit, customer satisfaction and reputation. Each retailer can act differently customising stimuli to their genre or product; although stimuli’s do not always have a positive effect for all retailers if the retail environment is created with consumers in mind, it can have affective outcomes (Turley & Milliman, 2000).
It is clear that the research on environmental-behaviours in a retail environment shows clear relationships between customer emotions and approach-avoidance behaviour and shows how The Mehrabain-Russell model can be applied to reach these findings. Although not all research can be universally generalized, we can see patterns and the research is academically credit to give us an idea of how stimuli in retail environments can affect consumers (Turley & Milliman, 2000).

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