The ambient temperature influences the “choice behaviour” of the consumer. Warm or cool temperatures influence the sense of social connectedness, which transfers to the importance consumers attach to the opinion of other consumers. Hence, it is best to create a warm context in order to facilitate the social behaviour of consumers. For instance, consumers tend to take the opinion of others as the reference point for their own product preferences in warm temperatures (as opposed to cold temperatures).
Guidelines from scientific research
The impact of temperature
Influence the experienced temperature
Sufficiently styling and furnishing a space (in comparison with an empty space) can raise the experience of the temperature of the environment. Use the right colours and textures in the space to influence the visual perception of warmth. The temperature in a space with red walls, for instance, is estimated to be higher than in a room with blue walls.
The creation of emotional warmth
If a warm drink is offered to the consumer, this warmth will pass through the absorption of the hands, creating an “emotional” feeling of warmth. In turn, the consumer will estimate other people to be warmer, more generous and more caring.
Ideal temperature for promotions
Promoting products with the use of tag lines such as ‘preferred by millions’, ‘a bestseller’, ‘trendy’, ‘very popular’ or ‘used by the majority’, is more effective in a store with a warm ambient temperature. Cooler store temperatures will, on the other hand, benefit products described as ‘unique’, ‘rare’, ‘scarce’, ‘tailor-made’ or ‘one-of-a-kind’.
Perception of warmth of materials
When selecting materials for a store interior it is very important to pay sufficient attention to the way these materials will be experienced by the users: both the retailers and the consumers. The colour and texture of the material can influence the visual perception of warmth. Although not always true, the visual aspect usually dominates in a multi-sensorial perception. Hence in an interior, colour (especially interior wall colour) has a greater impact on the visual perception of warmth than texture. In other words, a red concrete wall is perceived to be warmer than a coarse concrete wall. The coarse wall, in turn, is perceived to be warmer than a smooth concrete wall. As it is not always possible to change the colour of an existing material, it might however be possible to alter the texture of a surface to influence the perceived warmth of a material.
Drawing attention with tactile characteristics
Use the tactile characteristics of a product to draw the attention of the consumer. When this one is attracted by the tactility of a product, there is less risk that he will shift his attention to a competing product or brand. However, when a product doesn’t feel pleasant or doesn’t invoke a satisfying feeling, the consumer will more likely search elsewhere.
People have different preferences when it comes to the senses they use to acquire information. For some people, haptic information (that gained through the use of touch) is predominant. Haptic information is important for the evaluation of products that differ in texture, hardness, temperature and weight. Avoid presentations that hinder the ability to touch a product (for instance a product that is behind glass or on a display which is out of reach. Have a look at our recap paper ‘haptic is practical’ in Peck & Childers (2003) for more insights on haptic information.
The tactile interaction created by a product (or piece of furniture) in a store appears to affect the way this product is perceived. An important consequence is that the tactile aspect of products/furniture needs to be congruent with the appeal of it (the underlying message). The tactile aspect can also be used to reinforce the visual aspect.
Negative consequences of tactile contact
Products should be neatly displayed or folded on the shelves, as consumers find products less attractive and are less likely to buy them when they think that the products have often been touched before.
When a salesperson touches the consumer very subtly and lightly, the chance of participation by the consumer, the tip he gives, or in some circumstances the evaluation of the service increases. Still, some care is warranted. Salespeople should evaluate whether and when it is appropriate to touch someone during their sales talk. Women tend to have a higher preference for tactile contact than men, and also age-related differences need to be taken into account: tactile contact is more convincing for a person over 65, than for younger consumers.