Enticing consumers to enter fashion stores

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Research method

In this chapter the choice of methodology will be presented. Furthermore, the research philosophy, research approach, and choice of theory will also be presented.

Research philosophy

When assessing research design for a thesis, one should recognize the crucial role research philosophy, research approach, choice of theory and methodology play. Research philosophy is used by the researcher to disclose the context of a study and how it is viewed (Bryman & Bell, 2011). There are two main branches of research philosophies, Positivism and Hermeneutics with existing sub-branches of philosophies.
Positivism is built upon a thirst for quantitative knowledge, where research is done to achieve set results. Furthermore, the pursuit of knowledge within Positivism is to increase ability, and as a result positivistic research usually builds itself upon how questions. Additionally, positivistic research focuses on objective facts that are measurable such as the speed of light, which traditionally is studied through statistical hypothesis testing (Hansson, 2012; Lind, 2014).
Conversely, Hermeneutics is built upon a thirst for qualitative knowledge. The pursuit of knowledge within Hermeneutics is to increase understanding, where research is done in an explorative context to explain and increase understanding. This is usually done through why questions, where research is interoperated due to the qualitative aspect of it (Denscombe, 2012). Furthermore, hermeneutic research focuses on qualitative research, and thus delves deeper within a phenomenon. As a result, hermeneutic research studies subjective facts and phenomenon such as how sensory marketing entices consumer behaviour (Hansson, 2012; Lind, 2014). As a result of the thesis explanatory nature, the main research philosophy used will be hermeneutic.
To augment the research philosophy used, one needs to delve deeper within the sub branches of Hermeneutics and find a sub-philosophy. The sub-philosophy which will be used is Phenomenology. A Phenomenological research philosophy seeks to immerse itself within the underlying process of a phenomenon within social reality, and study the nuances of human behaviour. Furthermore, Phenomenological research is built upon human experiences and perceptions (Denscombe, 2012). Therefore, this thesis will use a Phenomenological research philosophy to augment the Hermeneutic research philosophy. As a result, the combination intertwines the explorative aspects of the thesis with the social reality phenomenon of consumers entering fashion stores.

Research approach

Research approach is the interaction between empirical data and theory within a study. There are three different research approaches inductive and deductive approach which are two opposites, and abductive approach which is a combination of both (Alvehus, 2013; Lind, 2014).
An inductive research approach is when the study starts within the empirical data, without any theoretical predisposition. The researchers will try to create a theory from the new empirical data. Conversely, a deductive research approach starts within theories. Based on theories the researchers will formulate hypothesis, which will be tested against the empirical data. An abductive research approach is a combination of an inductive and a deductive. As a result, the researcher will go back and forth between empirical data and theory. Additionally, an abductive research strategy also brings the option of going back in theories and modify them after testing the empirical data through the initial theoretical framework (Alvehus, 2013; Lind, 2014).
This thesis will use an abductive research approach. This is due to the advantage of avoiding the potential risk of confirming an already existing theory, thus excluding a deductive approach. By using an abductive approach for qualitative research, over using a deductive research approach that mistake is eliminated. However, using an inductive approach for qualitative research is associated with the potential disadvantage of interpretations being based on earlier theories (Alvehus, 2013). Thus, the choice of an abductive research strategy for the thesis because it offers the possibility of alterations within the A-S-O-R model.

Choice of theory

There are multiple theories within the field of marketing and consumer behaviour. However, this thesis will focus on sensory marketing theory, consumer behaviour through the S-O-R model. This is the result of the relevance of the models and theories used. The S-O-R model will be adapted to become the framework for which the phenomenon of consumers entering fashion stores will be studied. This will be done by using sensory marketing as sensory stimuli, and the emotional responses to sensory marketing as the organism.

Choice of methodology

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to an increased understanding of sensory marketing, and more specifically to increase the knowledge within the field of how sensory marketing affect consumers’ choice to enter or not enter a physical fashion store. Due to the lack of empirical studies within the field of sensory marketing, and due to the importance of having consumers’ enter stores this thesis will increase the understanding of the phenomenon. Therefore, this thesis will not test hypothesises. However, the thesis will use semi-structured interviews with consumers’ after they have entered a physical fashion store; to study their reasoning for entering. Additionally, observations will be used to augment the empirical data collected through semi-structured interviews, to increase both validity and reliability of the study (Denscombe, 2012). The observations will be done by observing the number of consumers entering two different stores which differentiate in how they use sensory marketing as part of their marketing strategy.

Literature review

In this chapter the literature review will be presented. We will present previous research and theories regarding sensory marketing, retail marketing and consumer behaviour. At the end of this chapter, the theoretical framework will be presented. The purpose with this chapter is to get a greater understanding of the phenomenon and later use the theories presented in the analysis and conclusion.

Sensory marketing

The concept “Sensory marketing” (SM) can be traced back some 61 years ago where Abbott (1955) states that consumers desire are not products. However the satisfying experiences are desirable. He goes on stating that people only want products because of the search for experience (Abbott, 1955). Abbott (1995) did not state that this was sensory marketing in plain language. However, In order to gain this experience Abbott (1955) writes about it is impossible for this to not be filtered through our senses (Achrol S. K., 2011).
Sensory marketing within the retail environment can also be traced back many years. Kotler (1973) uses the term atmospheric and hypothesizes a connection between the qualities of service or retail environment and the consumer´s buying behaviour (Kotler, Atmospherics as a marketing tool, 1973). Since that day, there has been a remarkable change within the retail industry regarding sensory marketing. Sensory marketing has moved from being pinned in the academic world into the present business world and popular culture Competition is ever-growing and business are ravenous for more awareness that is considered to give them an improved retail experience, thus a competitive advantage (Lund, 2015)
Interest in the humans’ five senses has grown rapidly, therefore, sensory marketing has likewise grown (Schmitt B.H, 1999). The remerge of sensory marketing means that a time where senses are in centre has begun. An example is the Volvo commercial, where they try to create the perception of the Volvo car being “the sixth sense” (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008).
Transaction marketing (TM) is a criticised marketing concept which is according to some outdated (Godson, 2009). It is known to be annoying for the customers thus it concentrates on selling without having the consumer in mind. The concept is to sell, have one way communication and have the product in the centre. However TM is still used today and in some industries it is successful. One example is the Swedish furniture store IKEA. The IKEA catalogue is a typical TM tool nevertheless, still used (IKEA, 2016a). Another concept which is more recent and less criticized is relationship marketing (RM). RM´s primary concern is to build relationships between the company and the customers. Unlike TM, Two-way communication is used in RM (Godson, 2009) However SM has the senses in centre. A multidimensional communication is primary in SM. This means being able to communicate through one or more of the five senses. Furthermore SM involves the customer into dialogs, interactivity; customer treatment is also something put in centre (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008). In addition one should know that a marketing concept does not rule out another. Many concepts can be used as complements for each other. IKEA is once again a great example. As mentioned above IKEA has the typical TM tool. However they also make use of a typical RM tool which is their “IKEA family card” (IKEA, 2016b)
The concept of sensory marketing is marketing which immerses the senses of consumers’, and thus effects their perception, judgment, and behaviour in a desired manner (Hultén, 2011; Krishna, 2011; Krishna & Schwarz, 2014). Since to core concept of sensory marketing is to affect the consumers’ senses, the first step is to understand which senses are driving in the experience creation process. There are five senses which influence consumer perception of experiences; scent, sound, sight, touch and taste. The reason for using the five senses are they are vital in shaping perceptions. As a result, all five senses are appropriate in facilitating experiences as well as affecting consumption and buying processes (Hultén, 2011; Krishna, 2011).

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The use of scent in sensory marketing is commonly used for two purposes. Firstly the purpose is to allow a scent to become a component of a brands image and identity. Here, scent is used because it contributes in creating lasting memories, a positive environment, and increasing wellbeing for both consumers and employees. This is commonly done by having brand scents, or signature scents. Furthermore scent can create a connection to products due to their congruency with a scent (Hultén, 2011; Krishna, 2011; Krishna & Schwarz, 2014). Thus it becomes an important part in facilitating individual value for the consumer. The second purpose is to use scent to impact consumers’ mood and state. Thus trying to affect the consumers’ perception of the store, and their shopping process, which focuses on the facilitating of experience (Achrol & Kotler, 2012; Hultén, 2011).
There is a rise in the usage of scent marketing in various companies. This because there has been a realization on how important it is to use scent-marketing as a primary variable in the marketing plan. Presently it is more common to be used by retailers to generate an aroma in a specific environment or situation. In some cases it has also shown that these aromas has led to a result of 40 percent increase in profit (Gobé, 2001). The products used for generating aroma are more known as “air care”-products. Scented candle, tea and coffee bags, oils, pot pourri and perfumed resin are commonly used as air care. Air cleaner, liquid and sprays some of many new alternatives in the market (Jeffries, 2007).
To emphasize the effect of air care products there has been an experiment where two pair Nike shoes, exactly the same were placed in two different, but identical rooms. The only thing differentiating the rooms was a weak, barely recognizable aroma of flowers. The experiment showed that 84 percent of the participants chose to buy the shoes in the room with aroma. Even to a higher price than the other shoes, this because the perception of the shoes in the room with the aroma were perceived as more expensive (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008).


Sound is used to emphasize brand image and brand identity. This is because sound creates meaning and inspires people. Sound influences the experience of a brand, for example associating HTC with the sound their phones make when turned on. Furthermore in regards to physical fashion stores, sound plays an important part in creating and expressing atmosphere and theme. Which as a result also affects attentiveness for a store (Hultén, 2011; Krishna, 2011).
Initially, loud sounds are most noticeable, however there are sounds that affects us without recognizing it. Most common are the low-frequent, continuous sounds such as ticking watches or the buzzing sound from a fridge. One can perceive strong feelings towards a specific sound even though one has not listen carefully to the sound or even yet not heard the sound for years (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008).
Another way to utilize sound is voices. Having a well-known person’s voice to a specific product or campaign has been showed to strengthen the identity of the companies’ brand. However, a well-known person is not the primary focus one should have. Having a voice that sounds personal, emotional and kind could create a positive perception of the brand image. Using a voice could also be used for specific moments, like campaigns. For example “Hästen”, during a period of 14 days there were voices in the stores giving customers information about different products and contributing to a positive sense marketing. The results of this campaign showed that the products testing rose with 48 percent and sales increased with 53% (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008). Music has also been used as means of capturing the customers’ interest. An example is the clothing store “Lindex” where speakers were placed in the display window and depending on the amount of people passing outside the store the music was adjusted with the prospect of making the store visible in an auditory way. (Broweus & van Dijk, 2006)


As a result of a consumers first interaction with a product or service is through vision, sight becomes one of the most important senses to focus on from a sensory marketing perspective. Colours are used to make stores distinct. Furthermore there is a focus on colour, theme, interior design, and exterior design as a facilitator for sensory expression and experience for the consumer (Krishna, 2011; Krishna & Schwarz, 2014; Walsh, Shiu, Hassan, Michaelidou, & Beatty, 2011).
Lights, shapes, and colours is some of many visual attractions the eye can notice. Lights could be used to gain store awareness in a shopping mall or increasing the lights on a specific product 18 could also lead to a boost in sales. Distinguishing the product from others could be done through shapes. Colour is an important variable which must be taken in consideration. A specific colour can make the customer feel in a certain way. For example, the colour green is the colour of balance and harmony, it makes consumers feel calm. While the colour red is associated with rage, danger and strength or passion, desire and love depending on culture. (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008).


Touch relates to being in a physical store and being able to touch, feel, and try products. This creates accessibility which affects the consumers’ perception of products. Furthermore the process of touching, even without any previous information creates an increase in perceived ownership (Krishna, 2011; Krishna & Schwarz, 2014).
The transfer of information or feeling when touched is also known as tactile marketing. This is built on increasing the physical and physiological interaction between the consumer and company. An example is IKEA that offered their customers to stay over the night and create a sensual feeling towards the beds. This to also implement a tactile marketing and get to know the customer on a personal level (Hultén, Broweus, & Van Dijk, 2008). Additionally, it increases the chances for impulsive buying (Peck & Wiggins, 2006). Being able to touch the products is also a way to use the advantage of having a physical store and differentiate oneself from e-stores.


Although taste is an independent sense, it is rarely independent in practice. When working with taste there are by-products in other senses which influence the perception of taste. Notable examples are vision and scent, the looks and smell of a product affect the perceived taste of it which both are related to brand image. (Hultén, 2011; Krishna, 2011; Krishna & Schwarz, 2014). In order to stimulate the taste senses it is not needed to be a products that can be tasted. For instance, a fragrance with a package of their smell could appeal the taste. Using the sight to see what flavour it is could be enough to stimulate a taste. A close-up photo with detailed explanation of a chocolate could also be enough to trigger the taste sense (Lund, 2015).

Table of contents :

1. Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problematisation
1.3 Research Question
1.4 Purpose
1.5 Limitations
1.6 Outline
2. Research method
2.1 Research philosophy
2.2 Research approach
2.3 Choice of theory
2.4 Choice of methodology
3. Literature review
3.1 Sensory marketing
3.1.1 Scent
3.1.2 Sound
3.1.3 Sight
3.1.4 Touch
3.1.5 Taste
3.2 Retail marketing
3.3 Crossover between sensory and retail
3.4 Consumer behaviour
3.4.1 S-O-R model Stimuli Organism Response
3.4.2 Organism – Emotional response
3.5 Theoretical Framework
3.5.1 Adapted S-O-R – A-S-O-R model
4. Empirical Method
4.1 Research strategy and time horizon
4.2 Research design
4.3 Data collection
4.3.1 Semi-structured interview
4.3.2 Observation
4.4 Site and participation selection
4.5 Analysis Method
4.6 Observation guide
4.7 Interview guide
4.8 Operationalization
4.8.1 Stimuli
4.8.2 Organism
4.8.3 Response
4.9 Reliability, validity, and generalizability
4.9.1 Reliability
4.9.2 Validity
4.9.3 Generalizability
5. Empiric findings, analysis and discussion
5.1 Empirical findings
5.2 Analysis of empirical findings
5.2.1 Analysis of sound
5.2.2 Analysis of scent
5.2.3 Analysis of sight
5.2.4 Analysis of touch
5.2.5 Analysis of the general questions
5.3 Discussion
6. Conclusion
6.1 Summary of the thesis
6.2 Conclusion
6.3 Critical review
6.4 Theoretical implications
6.5 Practical implications
6.6 Future research
7. References
Appendix A: Interview guide
Appendix B: Hollister
Appendix C: SamS
Appendix D: Observation guide
Appendix E: Interview excerpts


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