Visual merchandising


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Visual merchandising

  1. 1. IntroductionVisual merchandising Visual stimulation and communication haveand the creation of long been considered important aspects ofdiscernible retail retailing by practitioners and academics alike (McGoldrick, 1990, 2002). This interest inbrands the visual has ± at one level within the retail context ± coalesced to form the practice ofShona Kerfoot ``visual merchandising. This is defined as theBarry Davies and ``. . . activity which coordinates effective merchandise selection with effectivePhilippa Ward merchandise display (Walters and White, 1987, p. 238). Visual merchandising is therefore concerned with both how the The authors product and/or brand is visuallyShona Kerfoot is based at Matalan Retail Ltd, communicated to the customer and alsoSkelmersdale, UK. whether this message is decodedBarry Davies is Assistant Dean (Research) and ``appropriately ± in this context affecting aPhilippa Ward is Principal Lecturer, both at the positive psychological or behaviouralUniversity of Gloucestershire Business School, outcome, ultimately leading to purchase. TheCheltenham, UK. importance of attaining such an outcome has meant that within the retail environment, Keywords numerous methods have been used to display merchandise and communicate product andMerchandising, Vision, Branding, Retailing, Fashion retailer brand. This diversity in visual merchandising methods has perhaps also Abstract stemmed from the vast array of goods andThis research presents the results of an initial services that are sold by retailers.investigation on ``visual merchandising and its effects on The development of merchandisingpurchase behaviour and brand recognition. The context is techniques, and the dissemination of theseconcessionary branded female fashion offerings within a approaches amongst retailers, has a well-department store. The research utilises semi-structured established history. For example, L. Frankinterviews with a small sample of female undergraduate Baum acknowledged the importance ofstudents. The interviews incorporated the use of stimulus window display as early as 1897. He also actedmaterial ± photographs taken of concessions in a as the founding editor of The Show Window ± adepartment store some 150 miles away from the research trade publication in which he offeredlocation. The results suggest that the themes that linked guidelines to retailers on the creation ofmost strongly to purchase intention were: merchandise effective window displays ± where he providedcolours, presentation style, awareness of fixtures, path an early mechanism for the dissemination offinding, sensory qualities of materials and lighting. Initial visual merchandising ``best practice. Thisfindings suggest that liking of display does not totally early publication evolved to examine displaydetermine purchase, but does make it four times more across the store and continued to offer advicelikely. for some considerable time. This interest in the importance and potential of display to affect Electronic access customers has continued within the retailThe Emerald Research Register for this journal is sector and dedicated trade publications are stillavailable at apparent, for instance Visual Merchandise and Store Display (VM&SD), started in 1922. However, the importance of visualThe current issue and full text archive of this journal is merchandising has not received as muchavailable at attention in the academic literature (Lea- Greenwood, 1998). One notable exception has been within the US fashion-basedInternational Journal of Retail & Distribution Management literature, where a number of texts have beenVolume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . pp. 143-152# MCB UP Limited . ISSN 0959-0552 devoted to the subject. These though areDOI 10.1108/09590550310465521 primarily practitioner-based, highlighting 143
  2. 2. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152again a deficiency of attention from retail point-of-sale display and architectural display.academics. This study represents a small step This study focuses on merchandise display:towards addressing this lack. It investigates the choice of a singular store to provide thethe influence of visual merchandising stimuli stimulus photographs minimises thewithin the retail store environment on architectural elements (external and building-customer perceptions and responses. In doing based); additionally, point-of-sale areas werethis, the research is focused on the potential excluded from the photographs to ensure onlypsychological and behaviour outcomes that merchandise display was considered.result from customer interaction with visual The key facets within merchandise displaymerchandising, rather than directly trying to are identified within the literature as: layout,establish what constitutes best practice per se (e.g. Levy and Weitz, 1996; Berman andor manipulating visual merchandising Evans, 1995), fixturing (e.g. Levy and Weitz,techniques themselves. 1996; Donnellan, 1996), merchandise (e.g. The context chosen for investigation is Davies and Ward, 2002), presentationfemale fashion in the UK. This particular retail techniques (e.g. Buchanan et al., 1999),sector was chosen as it has recently elevated colour (e.g. Koelemeijer and Oppewal, 1999)visual merchandising to an issue of board level and packaging (e.g. Bruce and Cooper, 1997;concern (Lea-Greenwood, 1998). Given this Da Costa, 1995). These areas have receivedsituation the sector affords an ideal context in varying degrees of attention as individualwhich to investigate the impact of such cues on elements. However, there is, in fact, littlecustomers, as the degree of retailer work that brings these facets together assophistication in this area is likely to be higher ``merchandise display. There is also a lack ofthan that displayed by organisations in other literature that examines the influence thatsectors. Within the female fashion sector the such display engenders in consumers and ± indepartment store was selected as the specific particular ± considers the influence of suchvenue for investigation. This is because it offers cues on brand communication and purchasedistinctive merchandising possibilities for a intention. However, some of the elements ofnumber of brands ± both retail and clothing- merchandise display have been examinedbased. Here, the retail brands are derived from from an environmental psychology approach,those stores that source and display ``own- as well as from a service environmentbrand assortments, and the clothing-based perspective. These two related literaturesbrands stem from either a manufacturing or provide potential starting points as eachdesign base. Within the department store these considers the physicality of the in-storebrands are merchandised within their own environment and its influence on customers.concessions in a way that holds a number ofextraneous variables constant ± for example,building type or specific shop location. This The physical in-store environmentmakes the use of such a research contextadvantageous as it minimises the development It has frequently been suggested that ``goodof customer perceptions and behaviour based interior design within a store can maintainon such factors and therefore enables the customer interest, encourage customers toconsideration of various aspects of visual lower their psychological defences and make amerchandising and display and the purchase (e.g. Kotler, 1974; Walters and``effectiveness of this communication on White, 1987; Bitner, 1992; Omar, 1999;customers. However, whilst excluding Davies and Ward, 2002). In examining thisextraneous factors is beneficial, to investigate potential, the physical in-store environmentvisual merchandising adequately it is also has been examined in relation to variousnecessary to understand what actually elements, for example: orienting factorsconstitutes this area of retailer activity. (Davies and Ward, 2002); signage (Bitner, 1992); spatial factors (Davies and Ward, 2002; Bitner, 1992); and ambient conditionsDimensions of visual merchandising and (Bitner, 1992), which Kotler (1974) termeddisplay ``atmospherics. These elements are in many ways redolent of the facets of merchandiseOmar (1999) suggests that there are three display identified above. This high degree oftypes of interior display: merchandise display, congruence between merchandise display 144
  3. 3. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152facets and the elements identified when considered ± given the relative importance ofconcerning the physicality of the in-store the visual as a medium for communicationenvironment would appear to add further this lack in the literature is perhaps surprising.weight to the use of such ``borrowed This paper concentrates on the visualapproaches in this research. aspects of this totality of merchandising The work regarding the physicality of the within the store. In doing this the researchin-store environment focuses on the utilises a foundation drawn from the literature``communication of elements through cues on the retail built environment and focuses onand stimuli that the customer digests through issues concerning: colour, lighting, shape anda number of sensory modalities (visual, aural, space. However, consideration is also given toolfactory, haptic and taste). Within the issues of layout and fixturing as well asresearch on in-store environments it has been merchandise and presentation. The treatmentsuggested that some people are better at of these visual elements is not at the``digesting environmental stimuli than others individual level and rather than create(Bitner, 1992) and therefore the onus is on potentially meaningless divisions betweenthe retailer to make the physical environment them, the approach taken centres onas digestible or ``legible as possible (Davies consumers responses to the various retailand Ward, 2002). Given that up to 90 per environments as depicted in the stimuluscent of the cues provided by an environment material and ``reasons for these responses.are digested through sight (Edwards and This perspective is also consistent with theShackley, 1992) it follows that many predominant approach used in theenvironmental cues in the retail context are environmental psychology literature. Itvisually communicated. The twin threads of centres on the development of ``approach orvisual communication and legibility avoidance behaviour as the result ofhighlighted in the environmental literature ``pleasure, arousal and dominance beingecho the sentiments raised in the definition of generated by the environmental stimulivisual merchandising above. This then further (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Donovan andstrengthens the links between the visual Rossiter, 1982; Donovan et al., 1994). In thismerchandising and considerations of the research context these are operationalised asphysicality of the in-store environment. the development of ``liking or ``disliking andTherefore, from either perspective, propensity to browse. The relativeunderstanding how to communicate product effectiveness of the communication potentialand brand images to customers through of the in-store environment visual elements isindividual visual stimuli is vital. also considered. This is done through the The term ``visual merchandising also examination of respondents identification ofsuggests a degree of holistic communication brand and their assessment of merchandiseand this totality of consideration is also price (the latter measure attempts to considerreflected in the literature on the built if respondents are at least able to discern theenvironment. Here, in addition to the effect relative market position of the brand if notthat individual visual stimuli may have on the identify it outright).perception of a particular retail space, also Some attention is also paid to haptichighlighted are the effects that derive from sensing. The use of a single departmentalpeoples ability to discern ``wholes within store would enable sound to be kept constant,their field of perception. For example, Lynch however the stimulus materials used were(1960) devised the acronym ``PLEND to purely photographic, and whilst it is possibledescribe the ability of individuals to find their to discern potential haptic cues from suchway by reference to: paths, landmarks, edges, sources it is obviously impossible to gaugenodes and districts. Similarly, individuals are auditory ones. Issues of sound were thereforeable to perceive ``routes (Levy and Weitz, excluded.1996) or to discern the level of ``sociability of The aims of this study are therefore toa space. However, as Bawa et al. (1989) gather data from customers to identify thosehighlight only certain environmental variables factors or themes that they see as importanthave been the focus of research. Within these when considering visual merchandising.elements the totality of visual merchandising, Beyond this an attempt was also made toin the wider context of the internal establish whether presentation within theenvironment, has not, however, been individual concession was liked or disliked 145
  4. 4. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152and what particular features lead to a The use of stimulus material generated in aparticular concession seeming attractive or distant ``locational context was adopted tounattractive. Respondents were also asked eliminate the possibility of respondentswhether their perception of the price of the having had a direct involvement with theclothes was expensive or inexpensive, and concession. Had respondents had directwhether respondents would be likely to experience of the concessions they may havebrowse or not within the concession. They been able to identify the brand on the basis ofwere also asked to identify the brand in each their actual knowledge. The photographs didof the seven cases. This research therefore not show any elements of architectural displayadopts a consumer response-centred or point-of-sale display; care was also taken toapproach to visual merchandising stimuli in exclude any obviously identifiable signage,an attempt to consider this area of retail logos or brand names. This meant that theconcern in an holistic manner. In doing so it photographs focused solely on aspects ofseeks to both explore an area that has received visual merchandising and attention in the literature and limit the The ultimate selection of fashion ``brandspotentially meaningless division of visual included in the research was driven bystimuli into discrete areas of consideration. interviews conducted with fashion-oriented young females (not themselves studying fashion), who were then excluded fromMethodology further participation in data collection. The brands selected were also ones that featuredThis research takes an exploratory approach within department stores around theand utilises qualitative data collection interview location (Cheltenham). This thentechniques. This type of approach lends itself excluded those brands that potentialto this study as the central topic of visual respondents would otherwise perhaps notmerchandising has seen limited empirical have encountered making it impossible forinvestigation and the aims of the research them to recognise the brand from itsfocus on developing an understanding of associated visual merchandising. The brandsstimuli that cause particular responses. In used in this study where: Armani Jeans,doing this, it is necessary to explore FCUK, Max Mara, Miss Sixty, Morgan,respondents feelings and views in relation to Nicole Farhi and Polo Jeans.a particular visual merchandising presentationand therefore a more open approach is Research proceduredictated. Interviewees were seen individually in their homes and shown photographs of a particularData collection techniques concession. They were asked a number ofSemi-structured interviews were used as the questions derived from the research aims.central mechanism for data collection. The The questions concerned the following issues:use of this data collection technique aligns recognition of clothing brand, liking orwell with an exploratory approach as semi- disliking of the ``display, identification ofstructured interviews enable the ``seeking of what was seen as attractive and unattractive,insights. This is achieved through the propensity to browse the concession depicted,flexibility of using the technique, which rationale behind browsing activity, andaffords the opportunity to explore responses, possible purchase intention. These topicsseek clarification and explanation as well as were explored using open questions; in eachdeveloping discussion and where appropriate context care was taken by the interviewer notemploying probing techniques. This then to introduce specific aspects of visualprovides greater understanding and achieves merchandising to the discussion. Thisadded depth and richness in the data. enabled respondents to express their opinions The semi-structured interviews were based and select elements of the visual stimulus toaround the use of visual stimulus material. explore, thereby ensuring that thePhotographs were taken of seven varying respondents and not the interviewer drove thefemale fashion concessions within Kendals, data collected. By adopting such an approachthe large House of Fraser department store in it is possible to circumvent some of thethe centre of Manchester. This store was sited criticism that has been levelled at empiricalsome 150 miles from the research location. studies examining other aspects of the in-store 146
  5. 5. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152environment and customer perception been reached and no further interviews were(Davies and Ward, 2002). One closed- conducted.question was used within the interview, thisrelated to respondents perception of the cost Data analysisof the merchandise on display. This question The interviews were transcribed and thematicused a six-point scaled response format. The analysis conducted. These themes thenuniform response format was used in this assisted in the development of a model thatcontext to ensure that answers could be easily utilises each separate question responsecompared. This question was however (excluding those related to brand recognitionsupported by an open inquiry that sought to and clothing pricing) to map the impact ofdetermine respondents reasoning for their visual merchandising on liking, browsing andclassification of the cost of the clothes purchase intention.depicted. This process was then repeated with theremaining six photographs. Each time the Findings and discussionorder of the questions remained fixed;however the open nature of the questions A number of themes emerged from theused meant that there was scope to explore interviews, these centred on the followingpoints as they arose and where necessary topics: merchandise colour, manner ofrespondents could be probed to provide presentation, awareness of fixtures, pathadditional information. The order of the finding, sensory qualities of materials and thestimulus presentation was however rotated to effects of lighting. Some of these elements have close associations within issues raised inensure that order effects did not colour the the literature, others however appear toinformation gathered and additionally that highlight new issues that have received littlerespondent fatigue was not encountered attention to date.consistently in relation to a particularphotograph. A single interviewer Merchandise colouradministered this process and each session Merchandise colour had an immediate impacttook between 45 minutes and an hour to on most respondents and generatedcomplete. considerable comment. These tended to centre on the use of colour as a keySample presentation element and positiveThe sample used was convenience-based; observations were made on the use of colourhowever it was guided by the characteristics coordination across merchandise assortmentsprovided by House of Fraser in relation to its ± ``. . . blue, white, pinks and denim gofemale target market. These characteristics together. Colour coordination was alsocover a broad spectrum of women. The focus associated with the development of multiplein this research is on the younger female purchases in many cases, for example ``. . . Ishopper, termed ``the fashion-lover who is would buy the cream top to go with thebetween the ages of 18-26 and is of particular jeans. It was clear that the use of stronglyinterest to the House of Fraser group. This contrasting colours or what was deemed to befocus enabled the narrowing of the an ``uncoordinated colour arrangement wasboundaries for respondent selection. The found to be unpleasant. Such conditions wereconcessions selected, as mentioned above, associated with ``cramped or ``jumbledwere based on the choices of females falling presentation.within the selected respondent category, and It was interesting that those respondentswere not pre-selected by House of Fraser or who commented on colour did so in relationthe research team; the concessions did to the merchandise and did not in fact notehowever all form part of the ``fashion-lover the background colour of the concessiondepartment. Respondents for the interviews itself. This is perhaps surprising given that thewere selected on a convenience basis and were focus of research in relation to colour in theall undergraduate students at the University in-store environment has been onof Gloucestershire studying a variety of ``background colour. Respondents alsoprogrammes. In total 13 interviews were commented on the meaning that theyconducted. At this point data redundancy had associated with particular colours. These 147
  6. 6. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152associations are summarised in Table I, which appealing displays and had the potential toalso extends these associations to the price of positively impact a respondents propensity tothe merchandise. browse. There appears to be a degree of consistency Given these findings it appears thatin respondents perceptions of merchandise merchandise colour is an important factorcolour. These associations are however not that influences perceptions of price andconsistent with those presented in previous quality, as well as helping to form imageliterature. The literature is itself though perceptions of the wider retail offer. Theinconsistent and it would appear that while examination of this area, perhaps alongsidecolour does generate associations in issues of colour in relation to the generalcustomers, these are varied and perhaps background and, potentially, fixturing, wouldspecific to context, item and even possibly seem valuable.time. This could therefore presentconsiderable difficulty in conducting research Manner of presentationinto the use of colour in retail contexts and This issue raised considerable comment inadditionally perhaps provides some relation to four principal methods ofexplanation for the variety of associations presentation: hanging, folding, rail-based, andgenerated in existing research. the use of mannequins. Hanging was viewed It is also evident that whilst this may be a as the most attractive presentation method asdifficult area to research there is a need to it made garments ``readily visible, enablingunderstand the importance of colour, respondents to ``see everything withoutparticularly as it appears to transmit signals rummaging and also helped them torelated to merchandise pricing, and by ``visualise outfits and also ``mix and matchimplication quality. Respondents associated garments. Folding clothing made ``the displayneutral colours with exclusive merchandise. look neat. However, respondents noted thatThis is consistent with previous research by folding clothing made assessing style difficultIsrael (1994). However, white could be and in some cases was too neat, creatingconsidered a neutral colour, but respondents anxiety. This meant that a surprising numbersuggested that white merchandise would cost of respondents felt that they would notless than the average. Here, white is perhaps browse in the concession, as they did not wantbeing associated with ``basic and ``simple to ``disturb the display. The use of rails alsoboth in terms of the product and perhaps in raised negative comment; respondents foundterms of production. ``seeing only a sleeve to be ``irritating. Particular colours, as highlighted in the These various display techniques ± bothcomments related to coordination, are not used individually and in combination ± alsoconsidered in isolation. The notion of colour generated comment on the ``orderliness ofmix appeared to influence respondents. The the displays. Order was generally seen as ause of black and red in Miss Sixty was termed positive attribute by respondents and is often``high streety and the mix of colours used by perceived as essential in the literature onFCUK was thought to be ``bright and fun. In display (Diamond and Pintel, 1997).general, the use of a wide variety of colours However, the research indicated that therewas deemed to produce ``attractive and was a fine line between an orderly display andTable I Colour perception and merchandise priceColour Perception Perception of priceWhite ``Crap and tacky Below averageNeutral/beige ``Boring and dull" Expensive to very expensive ``Easy on the eye" ``For the older, more mature personPink ``Looks very young Average to above average ``Makes the clothes look too oldRed ``Garish Average to below average ``TackyBlack ``Makes the whole display look dark (No clear association) ``Blocks out all the other colours 148
  7. 7. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152one that is perceived as being ``complicated research, as well as the display mechanismor indeed ``muddled. It has been suggested itself influencing perceptions of what isthat hanging garments displayed on racks aesthetically pleasing, there is also a clear linkpresent an uncluttered and neat arrangement to the material used. For example, when glass(Berman and Evans, 1995). However, was used in combination with chrome, thisrespondents suggested that such displays were made displays ``look funky and fashionable.unattractive and disorganised and in fact, as Within the literature, little is made of theLevy and Weitz (1996) suggest, are confusing associations generated by different materialsand disordered. Therefore, the extent and (Schmitt and Simonson, 1997) and this isnature of the orderliness perceived appears to perhaps an area that warrants more detaileddiffer with various methods of presentation. examination.This suggests that the call for order in displays When fixturing type is considered, the usein the literature, whilst appropriate, needs to of shelves and rails was seen as unattractive ±be developed to accommodate the differences engendering the perception that thebetween (and interaction with other) display concession was ``bog standard or made thetypes. This may then provide a degree of products seem ``out of a warehouse. Theconsistency within the advice given in relation Nicole Farhi concession, whichto the use of display techniques within various predominantly uses shelves and rails, wasretail contexts. likened to ``a Next sale. The use of red as a Mannequins generated a positive response fixturing colour also generated negativein the main. Respondents expressed approval comments. It was seen as being ``tacky,at being able to ``see designs, ``entire outfits ``garish and ``in your face. This colourand ``see what the clothes will look like on. choice also lowered respondents perceptionsSuch comments would seem to support the of merchandise quality, leading to thesuggestion that mannequins influence assessment that the clothes were of anmultiple purchases (Kotler, 1974; Levy and average, below average or even cheap price.Weitz, 1996; Morganstein and Strongin,1992). Mannequins were also termed ``veryvisual and respondents actually made A holistic view of displayadverse comments in relation to displays thatdid not feature their use. Such positive views Respondents commented on, and werecan perhaps explain why mannequin use has potentially influenced by, a wide range ofbeen deemed to stimulate browsing (Lea- display-related factors. These, whilst oftenGreenwood, 1998). The only mannequins receiving individual attention, were notthat generated an adverse reaction were those viewed in isolation, and rather respondentsused in the Miss Sixty concession ± these were perceptions often involved various factors inhowever non-traditional clear torso combination. This ``holistic interpretation ofmannequins. display is somewhat at odds with the approaches conveyed in the literature. WhilstAwareness of fixtures considering various aspects individually isA wide variety of response was generated in clearly logical, it has perhaps meant that therelation to fixturing ± both in relation to literature fails to consider the effect of, formaterials used and type. There was a good example, folded garments displayed ondeal of consistency however regarding the use chrome and glass cubes and how changingof glass as a presentation material. It was materials or fixtures might in turn changeviewed positively by most respondents and perception. Such interactions begin to suggestwhen used as ``glass cubes was termed that the research conducted on display has``unusual and considered to make not as yet gone beyond the surface andpresentation ``neat and tidy. Respondents increasing sophistication is needed to providesuggested that glass tables conveyed a ``smart useful guidelines for retailers.appearance and merchandise laid out onsuch surfaces portrayed an ``up-market Path findingimage. This would seem to parallel The provision of a clear route noticeablyDonnellans assertion that the use of tables affected some respondents propensity toand cubes to display folded garments is browse. It was suggested that a clear routeaesthetically pleasing. However, within this provided ``a natural way to go around and 149
  8. 8. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152look at things. When respondents ``feel as context was viewed particularly negatively.though there is no route it was deemed The suggestion was that its use made displays``difficult to know where to start. Where ``look like a supermarket and was even bythere were obstructions when a route had some respondents deemed ``off putting andbeen delineated the displays where also ``offensive.termed ``hard to walk around. Neat and sparse displays (both in terms ofmerchandise density and display density) A potential link ± visual merchandisingwere unsurprisingly associated with more and consumer behaviourexpensive brands, one respondentcommenting: ``space says designer and then The various themes identified ledsuggesting ``. . . one pair of trousers laid out on respondents to develop a perception of theirtheir own shows they can afford the space and likely behaviour in each concession. Thispeople will pay the price because of the label. information, stimulated by the seven picturesHere, the notion of low spatial density of of the concessions across the 13 respondentsdisplay clearly generated the perception of provided 91 ``paths of action, enabled the``quality and not quantity. However, development of a model that details the likelyalthough the provision of space to browse was behaviour of respondents. These initial 91found to be pleasing, respondents also responses were ``translated into arrowssuggested that in such contexts ``the shop depicting the number of responses signalling aassistants would be looking at you and that particular path in relation to respondentsrespondents would feel that they ``shouldnt emotions and behaviour. The modelbe there. developed is depicted in Figure 1. From this representation of respondentsSensory qualities of materials concession perceptions and intended actionsRespondents deemed the use of ``wood for a number of potential links between visualflooring and hangers as giving a ``more merchandising and consumption intentionexclusive ambience. Wooden fixtures were can be established.also thought of as ``often show[ing] quality. Most of the literature fails to directlyThey also associated the material identify the potential of visual merchandisingunsurprisingly with being natural and as to influence affective and behaviouralcreating ``light and airy displays. response in a detailed manner. This research The use of plastic see-through mannequins demonstrates that the development of(in the Miss Sixty concession) was viewed by approach or avoidance behaviour is stronglysome respondents as being ``cheap and related to consumers like or dislike of visualnasty. However, others suggested that the merchandising. As illustrated in Figure 1 andmaterials used in this concession were Table II a favourable response that leads to``futuristic. They suggested that ``see- liking, in the majority of cases, engendersthrough mannequins, glass and modern-art browsing and once enticed to browse the linksteel tables, make the display feel funky. to purchase becomes evident. This pattern is supported in previous research studies.Effects of lighting However, this research highlights that liking,Respondents viewed lighting in a variety of whilst a good predictor and precursor toways. The most positive statements were browsing, does not always result in thisgenerated by the Max Mara concession. Here, behaviour. In a perhaps surprising number ofrespondents suggested that the lighting instances, liking still leads to avoidanceconveyed a positive feeling, the display ``looks behaviour.inviting and ``gives a feeling of seclusion and This pattern is also echoed by thoseIm special. Where lighting was merely responses where disliking is evident. Here, 36``satisfactory it attracted terms that included per cent of ``dislike responses still lead to``nice and light. Negative associations were browsing and even more strikingly, in 19 perattributed to lighting that was perceived as cent of instances, to purchase. Dislike does notbeing ``dull or ``basic. In these situations the therefore necessarily lead to avoidancelighting was seen to make the displays ``feel behaviour. These findings suggest that to fullycold, in a sterile and uninviting sense. The understand the creation of approach anduse of fluorescent strip lighting in a fashion avoidance behaviour there is a need to go 150
  9. 9. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152Figure 1 Behavioural process from display to consumptionTable II Visual merchandising ± affective responses and anticipated actionAffective response Action Response percentageLike (40 responses) Leave immediately 10 Browse: 88 ± purchase 80Dislike (36 responses) Leave immediately 64 Browse: 36 ± purchase 19Indifferent (15 responses) Leave immediately 46 Browse: 53 ± purchase 47Notes: Response percentages do not equal 100 as browse and purchase are not mutually exclusive categories andother potential actions have been omitted from the tablebeyond considering the development of a both consistent and distinctive. As such thisgeneral state of liking or disliking and consider fashion brand is a prime example of the abilitywhat propels consumers to act in a manner of visual merchandising to act as anthat is at odds with their affective responses. identifying factor. In addition, four respondents also appropriately recognised FCUK, and three respondents identified PoloBrand identification through visual ± here the red fixtures were said to aid thismerchandising process. The respondents did not recognise both theWhilst it is clear that respondents expressed Max Mara and Nicole Farhi fashion brands.both affective and behavioural responses to However, these two concessions werevisual merchandising, they were less able to consistently associated with a more expensiveuse this cue as a means of recognising a and upmarket offer. The basis for theseparticular fashion brand. Of the 13 perceptions corresponds with ideas detailed inrespondents, nine correctly identified Morgan the literature: for example, muted colouron the basis of the stimulus photograph associations and the use of low spatialprovided. One respondent stated that merchandise density (Schmitt and Simonson,``Morgan looks the same everywhere 1997; Walters and White, 1987). The Armanisuggesting that the companys visual style is Jeans concession also went unrecognised; 151
  10. 10. Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail brands International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management Shona Kerfoot, Barry Davies and Philippa Ward Volume 31 . Number 3 . 2003 . 143-152comments such as ``could be any jeans make Bitner, M.J. (1992), ``Servicescapes: the impact of physicaland ``thought it was mens demonstrate the surroundings on customers and employees, Journallack of any strong visual communication of of Marketing, Vol. 56 No. 2, pp. 57-71. Bruce, M. and Cooper, R. (1997), Marketing and Designthe brand. In this instance respondents also Management, International Thomson Business,considered the concession to be downmarket London.based on its visual merchandising. Here, as Buchanan, C., Simmons, C.J. and Bickart, B.A. (1999),Buchanan et al. (1999) suggest, consumers ``Brand equity dilution: retailer display and contexthave expectations regarding display, and if brand effects, Journal of Marketing Research,not met the brand may be re-evaluated. The Vol. 36 No. 3, p. 345. Da Costa, R. (1995), ``Making your image stand toinfluence of visual merchandising on brand attention, Marketing, 19 October, pp. x-xii.recognition is again an area that would benefit Davies, B. and Ward, P. (2002), Managing Retailfrom more detailed exploration. Consumption, Wiley, London. Diamond, J. and Pintel, G. (1997), Retail Buying (5th edition), Prentice Hall, London. Donnellan, J. (1996), Merchandise Buying andConclusions Management, Fairchild Publications, New York, NY. Donovan, R.J. and Rossiter, J.R. 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