Gimmicky or Effective? The Effects of Imaginative Displays on Customers’ Purchase Behavior

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Journal Article
Journal of Marketing, 2021, 85, (5), pp. 109-127
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Prior research indicates the strategic importance of the store environment in enhancing customers’ shopping experience and their purchase decisions. This article examines the effects of imaginative displays on customers’ purchase behavior. An imaginative display is constructed using multiple units of the same product in a novel or innovative yet aesthetically appealing form, which could be themed (i.e., having a particular shape mimicking an object) or unthemed. Six studies in both lab and field settings show that, relative to standard displays (i.e., non-novel and neutral aesthetics), imaginative displays can increase customers’ purchase behavior and intentions. Importantly, for themed imaginative displays, these effects work through the dual mechanisms of affect-based arousal and cognition-based inferred benefits, which are contingent on congruence between display form and perceived product benefit. Findings from this research not only contribute to the literature on in-store display and store atmospherics but also have significant practical implications for retailers. Specifically, while imaginative displays may appear gimmicky, they can favorably influence customers’ purchase behavior and increase product sales at relatively low costs.
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