Sensory Cues and Shoppers’ Touching Behaviour: The Case of IKEA

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Abstract
Purpose – The presented research aims to depict shoppers’ touching behaviour in relation to the introduction of visual and olfactory sensory cues at point-of-purchase in a retail setting. In the field of retailing research, there is a paucity of knowledge on how visual and olfactory sensory cues impact on consumers’ touch behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach – The author presents a review of theoretically relevant work from retailing and consumer psychology, and an original study examining the impact of visual and olfactory sensory cues on consumer touch behaviour. The study was a field experiment in the glass department of the Swedish retailer IKEA. The design was quasi-experimental with a convenience sample of shoppers assigned to a control group (n=451) and an experimental group (n=435).

Findings – In the reported study, the author finds significant differences between shoppers’ touching behaviour in a manipulated point-of-purchase compared to a conventional one. The findings show that visual and olfactory sensory cues have a positive impact on shoppers’ touching behaviour, purchase intentions and total sale.

Research limitations/implications – The findings demonstrate that sensory cues exert a positive impact on consumers’ desire to touch. Sensory cues frame consumers’ affective responses and decision making through involving the sense of touch.

Practical implications – The findings provide guidelines for managers of retail and service outlets, concerning the benefits of sensory cues in enhancing shoppers’ touching behaviour at point-of-purchase.

Originality/value – The research demonstrates that the introduction of visual and olfactory sensory cues impact consumers’ touch behaviour at point-of-purchase in a retail setting.