University of Twente Student Theses


'It's a cold hard world' : the subconscious influence of sensory metaphors on consumer responses

Kemp, L.C.M. van der (2015) 'It's a cold hard world' : the subconscious influence of sensory metaphors on consumer responses.

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Abstract:This study investigates the influence of sensory metaphorical associations of physical warmth (warmth and coldness) and haptic experiences (softness and hardness), and their combination, on consumer responses in a retail environment. Sensory marketing, which is the base of sensory metaphors, is nowadays almost impossible to imagine in stores: music is being played, scents linger in the air and specific light and colours are used. The behaviour that retail stores want to engage by making use of sensory marketing is purchase behaviour. The relatively young specific sub area of sensory marketing, ‘sensory metaphors’, has shown that even subtle, incidental bodily experiences can unconsciously affect thoughts, social perception, attitude, inference and judgement. The influence of various sensory metaphors is already proven in social psychology research, however we believe that sensory metaphors could influence consumer responses in a retail environment as well. This study was conducted by means of a 2 (warm vs. cold) x 2 (soft vs. hard) between subjects experiment. Several important concepts of consumer responses were measured, providing the dependent variables: the ‘consumers’ general attitude towards the company’, the ‘consumers’ perception of the company’s social orientation’, and the ‘consumers’ purchase intention’. The experiment was conducted at the University of Twente (N= 119). Warmth and coldness were manipulated by drinks and hard and soft haptic experiences were manipulated by chairs. Their subconscious influence on consumer responses was measured by means of a questionnaire about the brochure of a fictitious green energy company. When used separately, the warm drink revealed a significant positive influence on the ‘consumers’ general attitude’ and ‘perception of the company’s social orientation’. Furthermore this study found that the soft chair had a positive influence on all three dependent variables. The combination of the warm drink and soft chair on the ‘perception of the company’s social orientation’ and ‘purchase intention’ interacted positively, but not on a significant level. Additionally, a negative interaction effect occurred for the general attitude construct. The results of this study indicate that retail owners should place soft chairs in their seating area and offer warm drinks in order to create at least the best perception of the social orientation of the company and the highest purchase intention.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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