Shopper’s Experience of Digital Mall Signage as Atmospheric Stimuli: An Abstract
Digital out-of-home (DOOH) remains a topic largely ignored by academic scholars (Taylor 2015), despite innovative digital technology, which has created vibrant opportunities and revolutionized the traditional “outdoor” medium (Bauer et al. 2011; Kinetic 2014). Furthermore, empirical research on digital signage (DS) is scarce (Bae et al. 2016) – particularly in the emerging market context – and does not address shoppers’ experience of DS as mall atmospheric stimuli.
This paper presents a study which explored South African shoppers’ experience of DS in order to understand how it might influence their emotional responses and shopping behaviors. It draws inspiration from the fields of environmental psychology and retail atmospherics to propose that when contemporary shoppers experience retail atmospheric stimuli such as DS as positive, they are likely to stay longer, visit a mall more often, and/or spend more.
Brakus et al. (2014) demonstrated that DS in the retail environment evokes brand experience on a cognitive level when providing product information (thus utilitarian value) but evokes sensory and affective dimensions when offering spectacle and entertainment value (hedonic). In this study, the utilitarian and hedonic value of DS as retail atmospheric stimuli is explored by using the Mehrabian-Russell model of environmental influence (also referred to as the S-O-R model) as a theoretical lens. This model is widely used to examine the effect of retail atmospherics on shoppers’ responses (see Mishra et al. 2014).
Acknowledging earlier research on shopping experiences and mall atmospherics (Arnold and Reynolds 2003; Fiore and Kim 2007; Sit et al. 2003), an exploratory qualitative investigation was conducted. In-depth interviews with 30 shoppers guided by visual stimuli on DS in three super regional mall environments were used to collect the data.
The findings confirmed that digital mall signage as atmospheric stimuli can lead to an emotional reaction that influence shoppers’ behavioral responses in malls, supporting the theoretical model. The content and the quality or quantity of exposure can shape shoppers’ experience of the retail atmosphere. The results suggest that shoppers who see the DS as offering hedonic value will experience enjoyment; and improvement to the utilitarian value of content would also enhance the shopping experience. Overall DS is regarded as positive enhancement and a potential valuable source of information and entertainment. The narrative accentuated the demand for tailored content rather than universal marketer-driven inducements. Specific recommendations to enhance or improve the experience of shoppers exposed to digital mall signage are made.
References Available Upon Request