Why store atmosphere is important

It comes as no surprise that shopping is becoming increasingly more popular over the years, whether that be visiting shopping centres or buying online. There is no avoiding spending money and treating yourself. But do you ever stop and think why and how?

Way back in 1973 Philip Kotler introduced the theory of atmospherics, he defined atmospherics as the conscious designing of space to create certain effects in buyers. Meaning, that stores are designed to create an emotional connection with the buyer to enhance purchase probability. There are five main sensory channels: sight, sound, smell and touch. Who knew shopping was so complicated?

Kotler also presented, The Casual Chain Connecting Atmosphere and Purchase Probability:


Each step describes how atmospherics effects behaviour, for example, think about a jeweller’s store, it has bright white lights, plays subtle music and everything is sparkling. It all contributes to attracting their desired target market and increasing sales. (1) The jewellery is surrounded by bright lights that make the product sparkle (sight). (2) The buyer has full attention of the product, and their decision could be influenced from the champagne they are offered to the music being played. When we enter a store, the music is something that is usually overlooked – however, what we don’t realise is that music is being used to slow us down, speed us up, and (usually) getting us to spend more money. Music connects with our emotions, it can influence our mood and can even allow us to recreate certain memories.

(3) The quality of the atmosphere makes the products look 10x more appealing – affecting the buyer’s judgement. (4) The information the buyer has received has influenced his state – resulting in his purchase probability. Many studies particularly focus on the effects of music in relation to shoppers’ buying behaviours, it has been found that playing slower paced music can lead to significantly more time being spent in a store and a huge 32% increase in gross sales in comparison to fast music being played. Simple but effective.

In this respect, the atmosphere plays a huge role in converting wants into actual buying behaviours. So, the next time you’re shopping, you can thank Mr Philip Kotler for helping you spend your well-deserved pay cheque.

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