Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Impact Of Visual Merchandising On Consumer Store Choice Marketing Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3800 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

Retailing as an industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, over the past decade. Different types of retailers such as supermarket chains, clothing and textile outlets/chains and food chains have emerged at present. There are several major supermarket chains operating in Sri Lanka. The private supermarket chains in the country are on a rapid expansion driven to urban and rural areas. It was only about three years ago the supermarkets in Sri Lanka widely expanded all over the areas outside the city limits. This was driven by the factors like the emergence of a new social circle of wealthy people in outstation areas, the newly acquainted life styles of people requiring them to seek such services. Due to the mass demand, a number of supermarkets have been established in addition to the existing areas.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

The supermarket concept was initiated in Sri Lanka with the departmental stores namely Cargills and Millers, during the British Colonial period. The supermarkets were initially started in Sri Lanka in 1980’s. Whatever the situation, this particular industry began to expand after the year 2000. Today, the supermarket industry is at the growing stage of its Industry Life Cycle. As per data available, there are approximately 325 supermarket outlets offering FMCG products in major areas in the country. Two major company’s supermarket chains such as Cargills Food City and Keels Supper dominate the industry. At present, these two major supermarket chains have 100 outlets all over the country. In addition to above major supermarket chains, there are 33 outlets operated by other small supermarket chains such as Sentra, Kings Supper, Arpico, Sun Up, Park,n,Shop, Cristal and Prince Supper etc. In addition to the major super market chains, there are also self-service retailing outlets owned by individuals operating in all over the country.


The interior design within store can maintain customer interest, encourage customers to lower their psychological defenses and easy to make purchasing decisions (Kotler, 1974; Walters and White, 1987; Bitner, 1992; Omar, 1999; Davies and Ward, 2002). Therefore, Marketers have recognized that point of visual merchandising in retailing makes significant effect on consumer buying decisions (Schiffman and Kanuk, 1996). Most of researches conducted in supermarket concept in western base countries are referring to different superstore system compared to Sri Lankan condition. Though they are labeled as supermarkets, these are only retail outlets providing self services. Kerfoot, Davis and Ward (2003) found that Visual merchandising is main element of store choice behavior. The study conducted by Sinha and Banergy (2004), found that in-store environment is not important on store choice decisions in evolving market. Shopping is a recreational activity and selecting a store is perceived to be high on “entertainment” value. (Woodside et al.,1992). As well as some researchers have argued that store choice behavior depends on supermarket location and its service level. According to Hartline (2000) the behaviors of frontline service employees are critical to customer evaluations of service encounter. Ugur yavas (2001) found that major criteria for store choice decisions are distance, travel time and size of an outlet.

In Sri Lankan context, most of supermarkets use visual merchandising as point of sales promotions within their supermarket premises. And also the major supermarket chains are highly concerned about background music and in store fragrance. According to some Sri Lankan supermarket managers, all major supermarket chains spend more than 40% of their promotional budget on in store promotions. The major reason behind this is that many of the marketers today reasonably assume that a considerable influence can be made on buying decisions of consumers through visual merchandising. Though the situation is so, in certain cases, it seems that some customers select the stores based on outside promotional tools like car parking spaces, location and Children Park etc other than stimulation of visual merchandising. Hence, the problem centered in this study is to measure the extent to which visual merchandising of Sri Lankan supermarket affects the customers store choice decisions.

This study aims to review of customers’ responses on the visual merchandising of supermarkets. In addition, main objective of this study is to examine the influence emerged from visual merchandising on consumer’s store choice behavior. The specific objectives of the study are,

To identify the influence made by the Lighting on consumer’s store choice decisions

To examine the impact made by Design Layouts on consumer store preference

To find out the influence made by Product Display to encourage customer’s buying decisions

To evaluate the relative importance of cleanliness of supermarket premises on customers store choice behavior.


Retailers are facing a keen competitive market place and as a consequence of that they find many difficulties to differentiate their stores on the basis of product, place, people, price and promotion. Retail store elements such as colour, lighting and visual merchandising have always been considered as having immediate effects on the buying decision making process. The emphasis has moved away from in-store product displays, towards elements that excite the senses of shoppers such as flat screen videos or graphics, music, smells, lighting and flooring that tend to capture the brand image or personality and help to create an unique environment and shopping experience (McGoldrick, 1990; Marsh, 1999).

The physical in store environment has been examined in relation to various elements, for example: orienting factors (Davies and Ward, 2002); signage (Bitner, 1992); Spatial factors and ambient conditions (Davies and Ward, 2002), which Kotler termed “atmospherics”. The work regarding physicality of in-store environment focuses on the “communication” of elements through cues and stimuli that the consumer digests through a number of sensory modalities (visual, aural, olfactory, haptic and taste). Therefore, all literature commonly recognized as in-store environment depends on visual merchandising and other in store promotions.

Visual simulation and communication have long been considered important aspect of retailing by practitioners and academic alike (McGoldrick, 1990,2002). This interest in the visual has – at one level within the retail context – coalesced to from the practices of “visual merchandising”. This is defined as the activity, which coordinates effective merchandising selection with effective merchandising display (Wolters and White, 1987, p.238). Visual merchandising is therefore concerned with both how the product and/ or brand are visually communicated to the customer and also whether this message is decoded “appropriately”. In this context, it will be affecting to a positive psychological or behavioral outcome, ultimately leading to purchase.

In a study of store choice behavior among audio equipment shoppers, Dash et al. (1976) found that the level of pre-purchase information regarding the brand determined the type of store chosen. Shoppers who had higher levels of pre-purchase information generally shopped at the specialty store, whereas shoppers with low pre-purchase information bought at departmental stores. This is mainly attributed to customers adopting a risk reduction policy with regard to their impending purchase. Kenhove et al. (1999) found that store choice is differentiated by the nature of the task. They studied the store choice decision across various tasks as described by the respondents, such as urgent purchase, large quantities, difficult job, regular purchase and get ideas. The chosen stores differed in their salience rating depending on the task the shopper intended to perform. The salience of the stores has also been found to be affected by situational factors.

In a study conducted by Mattson (1982), was found that situational attributes, such as time pressure and gift-versus self-shopping, can influence store choice and attribute salience. It is also indicated that the situational influence needs to be evaluated for every visit and hence some shoppers may change their choice because of situation specific drivers. These situational influences may be classified as the competitive setting, the individual’s situational set and the shopping occasion.

The atmosphere of the shopping environment can influence customer attitudes and their perceptions in relation to the overall quality of the store in terms of the uniqueness of the product, service levels (Baker, Grewal and Parasraman, 1994), the purchase price (Areni and Kim, 1993) and purchase volume (Milliman, 1982). The role of ambience in store choice has also been found significant. Kotler (1974) has proposed atmospherics as an important part of retail marketing strategy. It is also found that the shoppers determine the value of the merchandise based on monetary as well as non-monetary costs (Zeithaml, 1988). It was found that recreation (a non-monetary value) was the major driver for visiting a regional shopping centre (Treblanche, 1999). The shopping experience, as created by the store environment, has been found to play an important role in building store patronage. Along with the merchandise, it triggered affective reaction among shoppers (Baker et al., 1992). It also contributes to creating store patronage intentions (Baker et al., 2002).

According to above research studies, some researchers have argued that in-store environment is critical component of store choice behavior and some other researchers have argued that other variables are most important than in-store environment. However, the previous research studies are providing evidence to store choice behavior is different in different cultures. It leaves problem to us, “Whether visual merchandising can significantly influence on customer’s store choice behavior in Sri Lankan supermarkets”


In conceptualizing the study, researchers have attempted to build relationship between key variables i.e., visual merchandising (independent variable) and store choice behavior (dependent variables). According to the literature and pilot study in Sri Lankan supermarkets, researchers recognized that lighting, design layout, product display and cleanliness are the main variables of visual merchandizing. It is also necessary to examine the relationship between two key variables and other variables influenced on dependent variable. This would enable the researchers to interpret the findings in a more comprehensive manner. The conceptual model that has been developed indicating their relationship is given below


Design Layout

Product Display


Visual Merchandizing

Store Choice Behavior

Figure 01. Conceptual Model


Data Collection

As a matter of fact, this study is almost an empirical one. So, as far as possible attempt was made to gather primary data. In that context, a detailed questionnaire was administrated. Meanwhile personal interviews and observations were also made. The primary research was carried out in 05 supermarkets located in Colombo, Kiribathgoda, Maharagama and Wattala and information were collected from customers who were purchasing products from the supermarket at the time of the survey. Additionally, secondary data for conceptualization and operationalization of the matters and other purposes were also utilized through textbooks, articles of journals and web sites etc.

Data were collected through questionnaires and interviews from 200 respondents selected from four areas of Colombo and suburbs. There was no any rejected questionnaire due to field investigators personally filled questionnaire with personal interviews. On the other hand, the researcher instructed them to select only the customers who purchase products from supermarkets. Most of the data pertaining to this study have been collected from customer sample drawn from Colombo and suburbs. The sample was distributed in Colombo, Wattala, Kiribathgoda and Maharagama by selecting 50 respondents from each area.

Data analysis Procedure

Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used in presenting and analyzing the data. Descriptive tools such as frequency counts, mean scores, percentages and standard deviation were calculated for the statements on the questionnaire in order to determine the impact of in store promotions on store choice decisions. In addition, correlation was used to determine the relationship between customer’s attitudes regarding visual merchandizing variables and customers store choice behavior.


Visual merchandizing and consumer’s store choice behavior.

This study focused on the visual merchandizing and consumer store choice decisions. The main objective of this study was to examine the influence emerged from visual merchandizing for consumer’s store choice decisions in Sri Lanka. The finding shows that influence emerged from visual merchandising on consumer’s store choice decisions is strong. The mean value of visual merchandising is 71.46. It is represented in strongly influenced score category (67 – 90). Mode and median values are 73.00 and 71.00 respectively (See Annexure 02).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

However, visual merchandising consists of four variables such as lighting, design layout, product display and cleanliness. Out of those variables, except product display other variables strongly influence in selecting specific supermarket outlet. The majority of respondents (57%) mentioned that product display in supermarkets outlets moderately influence on their store choice decisions. In the same time, 42% of respondents have indicated that product display strongly influence on their buying decisions. Moreover, the mean value of product display is 17.95. (See Annexure 01) It is more close to the lower level of strongly influenced score category (18.33 – 25.00). The findings show that 66% of respondents have indicated that lighting is strongly influenced on their store choice behavior. The descriptive statistics relating to the design layout mention that both mean and median belong to strongly influenced score category. However, the statistical distribution has multiple modes. The smallest value equal to 28.0 that represents the moderately influenced score category. Most of the customers mentioned that cleanliness is one of the most important factors of attractive in-store environment of supermarket outlets. According to the findings, 62% of respondents and 36% of respondents have indicated cleanliness will affect in a strong and moderate way respectively on their store choice decisions. Therefore, the quantitative figures show that visual merchandising has significant impact on store choice decision in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the in-store variables, most of consumers consider price of goods, location, and customer service and parking facilities etc. When customers are ranking the relative importance of factors affecting to the store choice decisions, most of customers have given first and second priority to visual merchandising. Second and third largest amount of customers mentioned price of goods and location of the outlets.

According to the data analysis output Pearson correlation between Store choice decisions and Visual Merchandising is 0.320. This correlation is significant at 0.01 levels (2-tailed). Therefore, it has significant relationship between visual merchandising and store choice decisions of customers.

Store Choice Decisions Based on Demographic Variables.

Another important finding was that all variables of visual merchandising are having more responses for the all age categories, gender, occupation, and education levels. That means except any demographic difference, customers are considering visual merchandising as the important factor in their store choice decisions.

The findings show that both 18 – 30 and 31 -50-aged customers highly consider cleanliness of supermarket outlets as the most important variable in their store choice decisions. However, 32 of 18 – 30 aged customers selected product display as the most important variable and 16 customers have selected design layout as main variable. In addition, 34 and 20 respondents have indicated that they consider design layout and product display respectively as important variables in store choice decisions.

The sample consists of 122 male customers and 78 female customers. A cross analysis was made in order to identify the relative importance of store-choice variables relating to the gender basis. Most of the male customers (54 respondents) consider cleanliness as the most importance factor in selecting specific outlet. However, most of female customers gave priority to product display in supermarket selection. The both genders gave their next priority to design layout.

Occupations were categorized into private sector, government sector and self-employment. The sample represented 138 private sector, 30 government sector and 30 self employees. The findings show that respondents in all employment categories have given first priority to the cleanliness in supermarket outlets. However, 40 private sector employees have indicated that design layout is the most important variable. Product display was considered as another important factor by each category of employees.

This section focused on analyzing relative importance of in-store variables under different education levels. The sample mainly consists of 72 graduates, 40 professionally qualified individuals and 56 customers who have completed secondary education (A/L passed). Generally, graduates, postgraduates and A/L passed customers have given first priority to cleanliness. In the same time, they have indicated design layout and product display is highly considered in selecting specific supermarket outlet. Most of the professionally qualified customers have selected design layout and product display as important variables in selecting the supermarkets.


The research findings of present study have more practical orientation and which is important for the marketers in supermarkets sector. Hence, the study recommends the following.

Visual merchandising is the most important variable in in-store environment among the tested variables. It can significantly influence on consumer’s store choice decisions. Therefore, application of more attractive visual merchandising materials in their promotions will help to obtain better results. The lighting, Design layout and cleanliness are the key elements of visual merchandizing programs other than product display.

Most of customers are willing to purchase products from supper markets from 6.00p.m. to 9.00p.m. in weekdays and 10.00a.m. to 8.00p.m. in weekends. Therefore, managers can pay special attention to make attractive environment in the supermarket premises and make action to control the rush condition.

Spaces between shells (Passage), cashier counters layouts, height of shells, no. of Gondola, number of impulse counters, sanitary facilities, height of roof are key variables of design layout that helps to make customer relaxation, convenience to selection of products, reduce average waiting time and encourage the impulse purchasing etc.

When designing the product display, Supermarket managers should pay special attention on category layout, canola (Light ceiling), color separation, lighting box, category name of product shells.

Damaged items on the shells and dust will make bad image towards the supermarket outlets and design of floor tiles can make significance influence to feeling of pleasure at shopping time.

Majority of customers respond to the lighting more positively. They specially mentioned that lighting helps to select correct products, reduce the time wasted and feel relaxation during the shopping tours. Therefore managers can select appropriate lighting system that creates satisfaction of psychological needs of customers.

Even though there is no significant correlation between in-store fragrance and store choice decisions, 58% of respondents mentioned that it is strongly influence on their store choice decisions. Therefore, the consumers’ preference can be changed according to the in-store fragrance used in the supermarkets. If marketers change the fragrance strategically and use more favorable fragrance, it will be more significant to patronage customers towards supermarkets and maintain the freshness within the supermarket premises.

The background music will also encourage customers to spend extra time in supermarkets. However, it has low significance relative to the other elements of in-store environment. It will help to encourage customers to make impulse purchasing decisions in supermarkets. And also customers will consider the shopping in such a supermarket is one of entertaining exercise. The soft and classic music are highly recommended than other type of music.


This study emphasizes the need of future researchers to pay more attention on this field. This is an interesting field for researchers who are interested in conducting studies relating this subject. Through out this study it was noted that the majority of researchers have not made considerable attempt to carry out such studies on this matter in Sri Lankan context. This study did not examine other factors affecting to the store choice decisions. Further research can be made on the impact of supermarket location, car-parking facilities, customer services, brand names associated with store choice decisions of customers in Sri Lanka. In addition, this study focused on store choice decisions. Therefore, more studies are necessary to examine the impact of in-store environment on buying behavior within the supermarket outlets. Furthermore, this study did not analyze the impact of special promotional events on consumer buying behavior. Hence, further study can be done on the measurements of effectiveness of special in-house promotional events in the supermarkets.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: