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Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Visual Merchandising and its effects on Consumer Behavior- Case Study


Investigating the influence of visual merchandising stimuli within the retail store environment on
customer perceptions and responses
Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu
Authors: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Introduction brief
The scope of this commentary is to focuses on the effects of visual stimulation towards consumer
behaviors from visual merchandising in fashion retail stores. With the increase of entrepreneurial
businesses and individual startups, consumers now face multiple alternatives in decisions for
consumption. For competitors, other than mastering the intangible branding strategies, the
aspect of visual communication had also performed a crucial feature in inducing consumers
attention. This research specializes on merchandise displaying as the main topic, emphasizing in the
areas of merchandise color, presentation, fixture and material respectively. The motivation concerns
how the variables packages and communicates the product to the audience, as well as congregate
reviews of the corresponding responses of consumers that had experience engaging within this
subject.
There are three phrases applied to elaborate the consumers reactions of visual merchandising
display. The phases are categorized into stages of engagement of the consumers while they engage
the retail stores, from attraction of display, to triggering the approach and finally deciding to
purchase upon the browse action. These features revolve from the central theory of customers
psychological response, developed by the fundamental behavior results of approach or avoidance
reactions (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Donovan and Rossiter, 1982; Donavan et al., 1994). The responses are
triggered by such feelings of positive elements pleasure, arousal and dominance towards the
merchandising presentation, which was also the criteria used in recording this engagement
outcomes of consumer behavior.
Stage 1 Attract
The attractiveness serves as a standard to evaluate the first impression of the store display and
having the close connection between the affective responses on the overall visual display. The
stimulus here triggers the attention that stops the consumer from passing by, focusing on the effort
of a visually spontaneous impression.
Stage 2 Approach
The approach or avoid feature serves as the phase of initiated action of interchanges between
displaying objects to another. The decision to approach relies on the positive feelings generated
through the combination of features.
Stage 3 Browse
Browsing is the final stage of the phases of engagement, this action is dependent upon the positive
collective experience of different stages in visual merchandise. This activity is also the crucial stage
of consumers to decide for possible purchasing intentions.

Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Research Findings and Analysis


An empirical research generated ndings upon these topics and were explored using open
questions of three stages of consumer behavior and four visual merchandising elements from
experience sampling and interviews of the shoppers in metropolitan cities and retail practitioners in
Taiwan.
Merchandise color
The color assortment of the display merchandise always makes great impression and immediate
impact on most consumers. Regards to the merchandise color affecting consumer perception was
mentioned in the prior research. It was clear that the use of strongly contrasting colours or what
was deemed to be and uncoordinated colour arrangement was found to be unpleasant. (2003, Ward)
However, it has changed due to the market trend. Retailers tend to display with variety of colors in
order to attract the attention of potential consumers.
The orderliness of the main visual presentation is usually the key of our display. However, it is a
must to have at least three colors shown on our main wall. It always attracts more customers
(30, boutique manager, Bottega Veneta).

We did a real experiment in New York city. The boutique displayed with more colors (not
necessary with more product assortments) made five times more sales than the others (37,
product manager, Tumi).

I usually purchased my scarf in Louis Vuitton. But they are like Zara now, all scarves are not real
cashmere anymore, only with more color selections. It is a disappointment. The material like
this has no need for a rainbow of color. The bad color ruined the whole thing (62, housewife).
For certain textile of merchandise, the more color of the products may give customers the
impression of mass production goods or lower price merchandise. In the leather goods market,
special color usually comes for limited edition goods for specific classic design or collection with
much higher price value. It is evident from the interview of the boutique manager that
merchandising color was an outcome of colors as a medium of achieving attraction from passing
consumers. The three color wall dcor explain in Bottega Veneta retail store proves to perform a
visual stimulus for consumers to look twice before passing by.
Presentation
Consumers not only evaluate from the view point of preferences on the aesthetic content, but there
is a strong need to look for the possibility of fit with the perceived images in the visual displays. It is
without doubt that retailers create visually pleasing displays and friendly shopping area, but there is
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Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

discrepancy between the expectations of shoppers and the concept designed by visual
merchandiser as shown in the following quotes:
Those mannequins are strange to me. Its all metal. They look very futuristic. I dont see how I
will look good in this style (25, office lady).
I guess not many girls have body shapes similar to the mannequins in the window. They look so
unreal (28, graduate school student).
It reminds me of the horror movie when I see these kinds of mannequin parts. Why cant they
display the whole mannequin like a perfect human shape? (30, elementary school teacher)
However, there are positive responses to some of the headless mannequins. It was found the
headless mannequins allow the shoppers to imagine themselves into the display with the garments.
Also, some interviewees feel it is rather easier to shop stockings, socks and winter accessories with
only legs or hands display. They view those mannequin parts as a tool for them to select the pattern
and texture efficiently without damaging the goods. Thus, it decreases the psychological defense of
having surreal feeling or uncomfortable feeling on mannequin parts.
Mannequins is the best and the most common way to display a total look. Exaggerated gestures and
body shapes capture customers attention immediately. However, the response may not be positive.
The mannequins are easily projected a gender differences and new-or-start-item feeling to the
products. Also, it is usually the focal point that draws customers into the store.
The gorgeous mannequin drew our attention to the window and made us stop and take a
closer look. We want to go in there and ask for the price. (44, manager; unknown age, housewife)
The mannequins on top of the display shelve usually give a better presentation of the garment
which folded under. However, it took much more display spaces to place mannequins; visual
merchandiser uses it for certain functional usage or seasonal total look presentation as a main focal
point in the shop.
Yes! I like those mannequins on top of this shelve because it is too difficult to open all the
t-shirts and see the graphic. I think the sales person will hate me doing that. (24, student)
The merchandise we select for the mannequins are very exclusive. Its very expensive for each
of the piece and we dont want to move it that often. The key items for the season will
definitely on the mannequins (30, boutique manager, Bottega Veneta).
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Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Hanging, folding and rail display are very common in retail market. Hanging is equally attractive as
mannequins. It shows the garments completely with every detail. Large shopping area usually
chooses to hang multiple merchandises on each of the cabinet in order to show the total look with
multiple goods. It increases the sales easily by styling with hanging techniques.
We dont have that much space here! It is only a small shop. We can only afford one
mannequin in our window. However, we can hang our first garment on each rail in order to
show the pattern and the look we created! It usually sells the fastest (26, boutique owner).
In context of the three phases of consumer behavior the mannequin presentation technique proves
to move consumer greatly in all stages. It is evident to suggest the exaggerated type of
mannequins should be mostly utilized as the attract stage of the visual merchandising experience,
due to the effectiveness of generating dialogues between audiences. While previous papers
(Kerfoot, Davies, Ward 2003) had suggested disconnected mannequins tend to act as a turn off, the
interview present an different perspective. Owing to the increase range of various assortments
specialized fashion products incline for specific exhibit platforms in conveying the ideal perception.
Thus detached mannequin parts could serve effective for browse stage to bridge with their
consumer. In addition, if these mannequin parts have other means of surface finish it could also
function too as an attract for accessories display.
Fixture and Material
Huge numbers of responses were generated in relation to fixturing, especially in relation to
materials used. The most common fixture in retail is shelving and rail. Shelving can deliver the most
visual impact by creating the complete theme presentation in accordance with the consumer eye
level. However, rail can present the max quantity of merchandise on the floor.
We always present our main selling product on the main shelving. There are nine boxes. The
star items always display at the eye level which is the three boxes in the middle. Our new
customers usually walk in because of this wall (30, boutique manager, Bottega Veneta)
Most of the tiny shops or boutique in this area use railing bar to hang all the clothes. I actually
find it annoying and inconvenient. I can only see lot of sleeves and the side of the garment. (23,
college student)

Ive shopped in this shop for five years. I didnt notice any changes in this shop until this year. I
feel it is much brighter and open. As usual, I feel very much welcomed and comfortable in this
environment; but I do feel the luxurious touch of the watches when I see this beautiful wooden
cabinets and this chic glass display tower (34, graphic designer)
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Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Regarding the use of glass and wood as presentation material, there was great deal of positive
feedbacks. Retailers found these two materials hard to maintain also cost much higher than other
usual display materials. However, in the watch and jewelry industry, the glass cube or glass cabinet
is one of the required display fixture and material. Fixture and materials are detailed features only
noticeable within a certain distance. Therefore, these attributes should most suitably fit in the last
phase of consumer interaction browse to highlight the main products presented by these
materials, in anticipating the holistic value of the product to appear greater than usual.
The interaction between the elements
Consumer interaction with display elements is important to stimulate positive involvement. For
example, color and material textures create strong symbolic messages followed by merchandising
props and product styles. The warm color tones such as red, and the cool color tones such as black,
navy and violet, project a strong image of femininity. While for the material textures such as lace,
silk, satin and chiffon are viewed as feminine fabrics and evoke a strong image of femininity. The
combination of prior perceptions of mannequins, color and material, create a very strong visual
impact on consumers where they felt that the display composition is too overwhelming as well. For
example, the consumers perceived the public would not prefer overly sexually driven image. When
displays have these elements and use them as focal points to draw consumer attention, it may lead
to a negative response.
I always feel uncomfortable to walk into that side of underwear section. The chiffon-like curtain
gives me the feeling of the mannequin as a seductive woman. Also the whole presentation
projects a feeling that it is not suitable for ordinary customers like me (33, production manager).
I dont think a sexy presentation works on women in Taiwan. My mother always tells us to be
decent. So I feel losing face to shop in this lingerie floor (35, interior designer).
Conclusion
In conclusion, the three stages of interaction between consumer behavior and four features of
visual display corresponds in rendering an idealistic atmosphere where visual merchandising
displays induce purchasing intentions of consumers. There is a degree of usability between each
characteristics and should be ingeniously manipulated within the retail display to maximize the
outcomes of these apparatus. Behind this interview analysis, we can see some contradictory results
presented by previous authors, which not all results may fit for every situation. Future preparation
of related researches should focus on simulating certain retail stores with specific regulations of
market segmentation for further study.

Consumer Behavior

Advisor: Shyh Nan, Liu


Author: Monica Wang, I-Tsang (David) Tsai

Citation:
Journals
Donovan, Rossiter, Marcoolyn and Nesdale. (1994) Store atmosphere and purchasing behavior,
Journal of Retailing, Vol. 70 No. 3 pp. 283-94
Donovan and Rossiter (1982), Store atmosphere: an environmental psychology approach, Journal
of Retailing, Vol. 58 No. 1, pp. 34-57.
Kerfoot, Davies, Ward (2003). Visual merchandising and the creation of discernible retail
brands. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 31(3), 143-152.
Book
Tony Morgan, T. M. (n.d.). Visual Merchandising: Window and in-store displays for retail(2nd ed.).