Sensory-perceptual attributes in the creation of the store's image: how they act on user behavior and improve physical retail experience
Authors: Paulo Eduardo Tonin, Celio Teodorico Dos Santos, Gabriela Mager, Elton Moura Nickel
Abstract: In the last decade, the world has seen the transformation of shopping habits. According to a report prepared in 2017 by Global Data, only 5.8% of customers in 2011 preferred virtual stores. In 2016, the number increased to 9.2% and in 2021 the estimate was 13.3%. However, the estimate did not take into account an important aggravating factor: Covid-19. With the Coronavirus pandemic and the necessary social isolation, purchases made through digital channels gained even more strength over physical retail. Numerous articles have been showing the impact of the event on consumer behavior, needs and preferences. Therefore, the old estimate of 13.3% is expected to increase considerably, as the online channel became for a period of time, for the first time in history, the only possible channel to buy. For security and convenience, users who habitually shopped at physical points of sale seem to have migrated to digital.In this precisely digital moment, user power demands a new level of concern. Being at the center of the development of products and services, the user is the one who defines any design decision. Even though digital interfaces such as e-commerce and internet banking have broken paradigms and changed the way in which everyday tasks are consumed and performed quickly and conveniently, the user is still looking for personalized and sensory experiences that only physical environments are capable of to offer. Currently, the point of sale that does not rethink the experience it offers and revises its engagement strategies ends up becoming obsolete. In an immediate and digitalized reality, the physical store only becomes relevant if it offers a differential and this is the structuring of the experience behind a multi-sensory shopping journey that keeps the user and his interests at the center of everything.The structuring of the experience is based on the construction of the store's image and the attributes that best represent the brand in its physical spaces should be highlighted in it, whether they are concept or pop-up stores. Attributes, by themselves, are acts performed in language and reflect the perceptual, emotional and experiential coordination of a given community and therefore are fundamental to the creation of a cohesive store image that is faithful to the interests of its consumers. Attributes, like adjectives, have as main function to accompany the noun, giving it characteristics or presenting something that particularizes it, just as attributes do with products, services and experiences. When analyzing the concept of Brand Equity, it is clear that it is through the attributes that the identity is created and transformed. It is responsible for bringing awareness to brands and differentiating them from others. Based on this finding, the study intends to answer the question: How do sensory-perceptual attributes, when used in the creation of store's image, influence users' cognitive processes and responses and improve their experience in physical retail?Sensory experience originates in the visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory systems. These systems constantly influence human cognitive responses. Designers commonly consider visual stimulation but end up forgetting the great power of the other four senses and consequently the results that could be achieved if they were used in conjunction with vision. Marketing or sensory branding at the point of sale consists in the use of sensory-perceptual attributes in order to act on the consumer's senses and generate affective, cognitive and behavioral reactions that favor the creation of the store's image, the experience offered in the commercial environment and, consequently, stimulate satisfaction and purchase. The importance of using different activities and actions directed to each on of the senses will depend on the category of products or services offered, the positioning sought by the brand, its target audience and main objectives. Through an exploratory research on the state of the art involving the main topics on the subject, such as cognitive and semiotic ergonomics, this study works with the hypothesis that, when used with clarity and consistency to brand identity, its target audience and products offered, sensory-perceptual language attributes are extremely important in the construction of the store's image and can influence cognitive processes of memory and decision-making, as well as improve experience in physical retail environments.
Keywords: Experience Design, Consumer Behavior, Cognitive Ergonomics, Physical Retail, Sensoriality
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