How Product–Environment Brightness Contrast and Product Disarray Impact Consumer Choice in Retail Environments

Published on Sep 1, 2017in Journal of Retailing
· DOI :10.1016/J.JRETAI.2017.03.003
Ryann Reynolds-McIlnay2
Estimated H-index: 2
(OSU: Oregon State University),
Maureen Morrin27
Estimated H-index: 27
(TU: Temple University),
Jens Nordfält12
Estimated H-index: 12
(HHS: Stockholm School of Economics)
A conceptual model is developed to predict how consumers respond to in-store displays as a function of the extent to which a product’s brightness level (i.e., its perceived light-emitting quality) contrasts with that of its background environment and the product’s level of disarray. We show that products whose brightness levels contrast more with those of the retail environment are more preferred because they visually “pop out” (e.g., a dark product in a brightly lit store environment). However, this preference reverses when the products that pop out appear in disarray (i.e., are perceived to have been previously touched by other shoppers). Because most stores are bright environments, darker (vs. lighter) products in disarray are more likely to be perceived as contaminated and less pleasant, leading to avoidance behaviors, evident in reduced sales and preference. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
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