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Decompression zone deconstructed: Products located at the store entrance do have an impact on sales

Tobias Otterbring (Department of Management/MAPP, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark) (Department of Psychology/CTF, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 5 November 2018

Issue publication date: 21 November 2018

505

Abstract

Purpose

Researchers have hypothesized that products located at the decompression zone of a store (the entrance area where customers adjust to the retail environment) do not influence sales of these particular products, because customers do not register things that are too close to store entrances. The purpose of this paper is to examine the validity of such a decompression zone account in actual field settings, and hence investigate whether or not placing products at the store entrance would increase customers’ likelihood to purchase these products.

Design/methodology/approach

Two field studies with a total sample of 715 customers were conducted, in which the entrance area of a home goods store was manipulated using a two-group quasi-experimental design. In Study 1, customers were (vs were not) exposed to candles and candle holders at the store entrance. In Study 2, an employee greeted customers at the store entrance with (vs without) the store’s products nearby.

Findings

Study 1 found that customers who were (vs were not) exposed to candles and candle holders at the store entrance purchased a significantly larger number of both these products. Study 2 replicated and generalized these findings. Although customers in the employee + products condition spent less money than customers in the employee-alone condition, the former group still purchased a significantly larger number of candles and candle holders. These findings go directly against a decompression zone account, but are consistent with research on exposure effects.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to empirically examine the validity of the decompression zone account in real retail settings. The paper also fills a more general gap in the store atmospherics literature, as only a very limited number of studies have dealt with the external parts of the retail environment, such as the store entrance area.

Keywords

Citation

Otterbring, T. (2018), "Decompression zone deconstructed: Products located at the store entrance do have an impact on sales", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 46 No. 11/12, pp. 1108-1116. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-03-2017-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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