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In-store proximity marketing: experimenting with digital point-of-sales communication

Kim Willems (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium) (Department of Marketing and Strategy, Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium)
Malaika Brengman (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)
Stephanie van de Sanden (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The authors present an exploratory study on the effectiveness of in-store marketing communication appeals via digital signage applying the construal level theory (CLT) in a field experiment. According to this theory, the authors hypothesize that shoppers will on the one hand respond more favorably to messages focusing on the desirability of the offering, when they are further distanced from the actual purchase decision. On the other hand, the authors expect more favorable responses toward messages containing feasibility appeals, positioned closer by to the purchase decision. The purpose of this paper is to determine appropriate location-based content for in-store proximity marketing.


A field experiment was conducted in a Belgian coffee bar, examining temporal distance effects in a natural retail/service environment. A 2×2 between-subjects experimental design is implemented (i.e. low vs high temporal distance×concrete/cost vs abstract/brand-oriented appeal), examining the impact on marketing communication effectiveness.


Overall, the authors find some initial support for CLT on effectiveness measures regarding purchase intentions and actual purchase, but not in terms of self-reported noticing of the screen and the ad, nor in terms of (un)aided ad recall.

Research limitations/implications

This experiment is a pilot study and such finds itself confronted with a limited number of observations.


The study is among the first to examine how message content (beyond price promotion) can be adapted to in-store locations.



The authors gratefully acknowledge Digitopia, a Belgian company specialized in retail digitization, for facilitating the experimental design by providing access to the location for this field study (i.e. a coffee bar in Antwerp, Belgium) and for the necessary technological support (i.e. digital screens and graphical content). In particular, this exploratory study is part of a research project (i.e. IWT/VLAIO Baekeland mandate No. 150726 entitled “In search of a sustainable competitive advantage: Digitally instrumenting bricks-and-mortar retailing in Flanders”) assigned to a “consortium” involving the authors, Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Digitopia.


Willems, K., Brengman, M. and van de Sanden, S. (2017), "In-store proximity marketing: experimenting with digital point-of-sales communication", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 45 No. 7/8, pp. 910-927.



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