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Store’s Lighting Influences Perceptions of Quality

Researchers report that different lighting schemes at stores influences consumer perceptions of the outlet's quality and pricing.

Light is important to us both biologically and psychologically. Indoors, it is also relatively easy to change. At the recent 7th International Design and Emotion Conference in Chicago, Katelijn Quartier — a lecturer and doctoral student in the department of architecture at PHL University in Belgium and a consultant with Retailology — discussed ways stores can use light to influence and brand shopper experience.

Quartier and her colleagues visited three grocery stores in Belgium — one high end, one a discounter and the third a deep discounter. At each, they took readings of the color and intensity of the light in use and noted how accent lighting was deployed.

They carried this information back to a test-lab store where they could observe shopper behavior under the three different lighting schemes. The differences in the color of the light in the three stores were subtle. The lighting at the high-end grocer and the deep discounter was a warmer white light (3000 Kelvin), while the light at the discounter was a cooler white light (4000 Kelvin). (Click here for an idea of what these Kelvin temperatures mean to your eyes.)

In the test-lab store, researchers found that shoppers could recognize the lighting style of the high-end store that they had visited. People experiencing the high-quality store lighting gave the test market higher grades for product quality and service than people experiencing the other lighting scenarios. They also perceived that prices were higher than people exposed to the other lighting schemas. Lighting style clearly influenced perception of the store. In addition, shoppers found it more pleasurable to experience the lighting style of the high-end grocery store.

Many retailers develop a lighting ambiance for their store that they feel sends the right messages to shoppers. A growing body of evidence indicates that this is time well spent.