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

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.

I guess it is the case with many articles, at least articles that include several studies but this paper feels like two-in-one. I got into the paper when Ryann had already worked on it for quite a while and she wanted a field study. I did the field study with the help of my students in multiple H&M stores and it turned out really well. So, we had this great idea about contaminated products by Ryann and then we had this huge field study by me. Now we only had to make it one paper. We tried multiple outlets before we had re-done and re-written it and eventually managed to get it into JR.

It is an untold part about the findings that you probably can relate hue (blue-to-red scales) to cones in the retina while the brightness contrast that we study in the paper probably is more due to the rods. It is also evident that rods are faster than the cones which could explain our results. Anyhow, if that is the true explanation or just a coincidence is up to someone else to explore.

The article can be found here:

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