Consumer Responses to Retail Display Design Features

By Sarah Fister, Chihmin Ti and Leslie Davis Burns.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Retail visual merchandisers use window and in-store displays to attract customers and give information about products. Displays provide customers with mental images about how merchandise can be used. The present research applied the S-O-R model (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974) to determine the effect of combinations of design features of apparel retail displays on consumers’ responses and attitudes towards the displays. Two between-subjects experiments were conducted. Study one examined the effect of apparel display type (full size mannequin or flat hanging mannequin) and gender on consumers’ aesthetic responses, approach responses, and perceived risk in purchasing the apparel. A sample of 76 males and 76 females evaluated in-store apparel displays of licensed sports apparel. Results indicated that the full size mannequin elicited more positive aesthetic responses by both male and female participants. Study two examined the effect of background context features of window displays on consumers’ mental imagery, arousal, attitude, and approach responses. A sample of 202 university students evaluated mock window displays of licensed sports apparel. Results indicated that window display with background context features elicited greater mental imagery and arousal than did the window display with no background context and that mental imagery was positively related to attitude toward the display and approach responses. For both studies the S-O-R model was useful in predicting and explaining consumers’ responses to design features of apparel retail displays primarily because of the mental imagery elicited by the displays. Consumers in both studies responded positively to design features of displays that evoked mental imagery of exciting and real-life experiences.

Keywords: Visual Merchandising, Retail Display, Mental Imagery

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.375-384. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 590.729KB).

Sarah Fister

Design and Human Environment, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Chihmin Ti

Design and Human Environment, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Dr. Leslie Davis Burns

Professor and Chair, Design and Human Environment, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Leslie Davis Burns is Professor and Chair of the Department of Design and Human Environment at Oregon State University. She holds a BA from Washington State University and PhD in Consumer Sciences and Retailing from Purdue University. Her research interests focus on consumers’ responses to designed environments, fashion theory, and topics related to the domestic and international textile and apparel industries.

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