Representational vs. abstract
Douce and Adams studied combined sensory experiences in retail environments. They report that their lab and field experiments indicate that “when a third high arousal cue is added sensory overload (i.e., rise in perceived arousal and decrease in perceived pleasantness) occurs under the condition that this third cue is processed by a higher sense (i.e. visual or auditory sense). Furthermore, a decrease in approach behavior and evaluations is also observed when these conditions are met. . . .
Yildirim and team assessed the implications of indoor plants in restaurants. They found using digital images that “restaurants designed with indoor plants had a more positive effect on the shopping decisions of participants than restaurants designed without indoor plants. . . . higher education graduate participants showed more positive opinions about the plant designed restaurant than secondary education graduate participants. . . .
Gonzalez, Meyer, and Toldos identified links between gender and responses to online retail displays; it is possible that their findings can also be applied in other contexts. The research trio report that their “study suggests a potential influence of rich contextual product displays, relative to plain white backgrounds. The results of five studies reveal that the product usage context influences purchase intentions among female customers. Women and men differ in their decision-making processes and evaluate different attributes and benefits prior to purchase.
Cowan and colleagues investigated the use of virtual reality while selling something. Their work determined that “360-VR may help to communicate the brand story online, but the impact of this storytelling can be lost in store aisles due to cognitive competition. . . . 360-VR used online (versus in-store) favors consumers with lower product knowledge. Since consumers with lower product knowledge typically shop in supermarkets or discount stores rather than at specialty boutiques . . .
Weingarten and Goodman’s research provides more nuanced insights into experiential consumption. They report that “A wealth of consumer research has proposed an experiential advantage: consumers yield greater happiness from purchasing experiences compared to material possessions. . . . the authors develop a model of consumer happiness and well-being based on psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, relatedness [need to feel social bonds to other humans], self-esteem, and meaningfulness), and conduct an experiential advantage meta-analysis to test this model. . .
Barhorst and colleagues evaluated how use of augmented reality (AR) by retailors influences shopping experiences. They determined that when “a commercially available AR app was utilized to conduct [online research]. . . . [that] AR vividness, AR interactivity, and AR novelty, are all key contributors to the immersive state of flow. . . . The results of this research indicate a more significant state of flow with AR in comparison to a regular shopping experience. . . .
Meissner and colleagues studied decision-making in virtual reality environments; their findings can be applied by anyone conducting research in virtual places or developing virtual retail spaces, for example.
Cho and Suh studied the implications of use of combinations of particular colors in retail environments.
Neuroscientists have thoroughly investigated the wellbeing- and revenue-related implications of retail design choices. The products of their analyses can be applied to boost sales in reach-out-and-touch-the-merchandise stores and online.