- Lindberg, Ulla, et al.
Consumer perception and behavior in the retail foodscape – A study of chilled groceries
Ingår i: Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. - 0969-6989. ; 40, s. 1-7
- In the retail grocery business, new competitors such as pure e-commerce players are growing fast, and, in order to compete, ‘brick and mortar’ stores such as supermarkets need to become more professional at providing excellent customer service, and to use the physical servicescape as the main competitive advantages. However, supermarkets also face a challenge to offer consumers high quality products while at the same time providing a pleasant and functional servicescape. Products like groceries often need to be stored in cabinets due to strict regulations and in order to maintain correct temperatures. Some of these cabinets have doors which make them more energy-efficient (Evans et al., 2007 ; Faramarzi et al., 2002), reduces costs, and contributes to grocery quality, but it can also affect the perceived servicescape, and risk a negative impact on sales (Waide, 2014; Kauffeld, 2015). For example, moisture from the atmosphere that condenses on the inside of the door glass (Fricke and Bansal, 2015) may make the cabinets less transparent, and doors can obstruct consumers from passing by. Thus, having chilled groceries in cabinets with doors can be both beneficial and problematic. However, no studies have been conducted on how open (no doors) or closed (with doors) cabinets for chilled groceries impact consumer perception and behavior. Hence, the purpose of the study is to contribute to an understanding of how consumers behave and what they perceive when shopping chilled groceries from cabinets with doors and without doors in the supermarket.Based on a qualitative research approach, combining in-store observations and focus group interviews, and focusing on Bitner's (1992) three environmental variables in the servicescape, i.e. (1) ambient condition, (2) space and functions, and (3) signs, symbols and artifacts, the study investigates the question: do open or closed cabinets for chilled groceries in the supermarket impact consumer perception and behavior, and if so, how?Our results indicate that consumers’ behavior and perceptions of the foodscape differ when there are doors or no doors on the cabinets. The paper thereby contributes to servicescape research by focusing on a particular part of supermarkets – the foodscape for chilled groceries–and by enhancing the understanding of environmental variables in the servicescape. The results further show how doors lead to different forms of approach or avoidance behavior in terms of accessibility and that consumers’ vision, olfaction and tactility all influence consumers’ perceptions of freshness and cleanliness in relation to doors or no doors. Our results also have practical implications for retailers who are designing new stores or considering changes in existing store layouts.