Most retailers know that the appearance of their stores plays a big part in determining consumer behavior. As such, they seek to use it to their advantage. Sport Chek sells various types of sports merchandise, mainly to middle and upper-class citizens of Canada. The company has many stores and online portals. The design of the stores communicates to customers that goods in the store are of high quality. Therefore, customers come with the expectation to pay a premium. The main elements that the store uses to influence consumer behavior include the choice of construction materials, careful choice of colors and shapes, and creative use of lighting. These elements have an impact on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses of potential customers. The channel strategy used by the company is effective because of Sport Chek’s strong brand name. The company can benefit more from a better channel strategy for its online shopping portal that can help it to take advantage of the global high-end sports market.
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Influencing Consumer Behavior in a Retail Environment
One of the key elements of marketing is the ability to predict consumer behavior. Marketers understand that consumers behave in predictable ways. In this regard, many businesses use physical design to influence the behavior of their potential consumers. It is important to note that this approach is not limited to physical stores. Online marketers also use the same principles in web design to influence the behavior of consumers. The goal of the paper is to identify how Sport Chek uses its internal and external environment to influence consumer behavior within its premises.
Observational Research Findings
The following were the findings made after observational research at one of the Sport Chek stores.
The typical customers who patronize Sport Chek stores come from Canada’s middle and upper classes. The retailer targets sport conscious people who are willing to spend money on sports gear. Young people form a significant part of the client base of the company—the young people in question range from teenagers to young professionals. Teenagers usually rely on their parents for financial support. This limits their spending power. Young professionals, on the other hand, have more money at their disposal. This makes them reliable customers. Apart from young people, the store also appeals to mature people who want to maintain a youthful image.
Store Image and Atmosphere
The store’s image and atmosphere have three main elements. First, the store’s design gives it a high-end feel. It is clear that the owners designed the store to please the high-end market segment. Secondly, the design of the store gives it an opulent look. This look comes from the materials used in its construction and decoration. Thirdly, the store uses lighting to accentuate various elements that contribute to the store’s ambiance.
The external environment of the store is neat. The area is well organized and is attractive to shoppers. The branding elements in the storefront make the main entrance the visual focal point. The branding elements use visual hierarchy to direct the eyes of observers from the surrounding areas towards the main entrance of the store. In addition to this, the storefront is symmetrical. The main entrance is at the center of the storefront will clearly brand windows. Symmetry is pleasing to the human eye. Finally, the pavements are plain colored but are neat. They offer no competition for attention to the store’s main entrance but complement it.
The inside of the store is as neat as the outside. The shoe racks form neat rows and columns. The store also uses spotlights to accentuate various sections. In addition, the store has targeted display lights that highlight various products. The shoes are in one section of the store. Within this section, all the shoes fall within a specific category. The criterion for the arrangement of shoes is by type and by price. Shoppers can quickly find the type of shoes they want and the options available within various price ranges. This method of arrangement applies to all sections of the store having other products.
Shoppers in the store behaved in different ways depending on their interests. Upon arrival, many of them went around the store to identify the products they wanted. They spent more time within specific sections looking at the available products. In the shoe section, some of the customers tried the shoes. Similarly, some of the customers went into the changing rooms to try out the clothes available in the store. Satisfied customers went to the cashiers to pay for the products. Some customers appeared to be window-shopping. They did not settle in any section but walked casually from section to section, briefly stopping to examine the products.
Features that Influence the Affective, Cognitive, and Behavioral Response
The three features that had a visible impact on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses of customers in the store were as follows. First, the choice of construction materials played an important role in the design and appearance of the store. Secondly, the choice of colors and shapes used in the store and in its surroundings also contributed to its image. The third point of interest was the use of lighting in the store.
Choice of Construction Materials
The materials used in the construction of the store gave it an expensive look. It made the store appeal to people from the higher social classes. The affective response elicited by looking at the store is that customers felt that they were going to shop from a high-end establishment. The effect on their purchasing behavior is that they were ready to pay a premium to access products from the store. At the same time, the environment repelled any potential client who wanted cheaper products. In this case, the choice of construction materials sent the message that the store was a high-end facility. The result was that buyers responded by either patronizing or avoiding the store.
The customers’ cognitive response was either getting into the store or avoiding it altogether. Customers who went to find high-end sports gear felt welcome to the store. In fact, such customers felt entitled to shop from the store. On the other hand, customers who were not buying items based on brand reputation felt that the store was too opulent. Such customers were not likely to go into the store.
The behavioral response of those who were mentally prepared to buy items from the store was actually buying the items from the store. On the other hand, customers who were not prepared to buy items from the store would go only to enjoy the ambiance as they window-shopped. Some of them would not get into the store at all. This behavior comes from the appearance of the materials used in the construction and decoration of the store.
Colors and Shapes
The second element that affected the cognitive, affective and behavioral response of the customers was the choice of colors and shapes used in the store. The opulent appearance of the store arose from the effect of color and shapes on the customers. Usually, high-end facilities tend to have accurate shapes and a professional application of colors.
The affective responses of potential customers to the colors and shapes used in the shop were similar to the responses caused by choice of materials. The use of uniform colors and highly symmetrical arrangements communicated the order associated with high-end facilities. A very orderly arrangement speaks of attention to detail that only high-end facilities can afford. It may not be the best place for bargain hunters.
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The cognitive response in this situation was to either validate the decision to go and shop in the store or to go elsewhere. The choice of color and shapes told the high-end shoppers that the store was where they should spend their money. On the other hand, it told the low-end shoppers that they should not expect any low-cost deals at the store. In this regard, the customers responded by validating their decision to shop in the store or to go elsewhere.
The behavioral response of shoppers arising from the careful use of color and shapes in the store was either to get into the store or to avoid it together. Customers used these elements to deduce the likely price and quality of the items offered in the store. They used their perception to decide whether to shop there or otherwise.
Use of Lighting
The store made very good use of lighting to accentuate various elements in its design. It also employed lights as a means of making certain products stand out. The use of lighting affected the behavior of the customers in various ways.
The affective response that lighting elicited in the store was that it created an interesting environment for the customers. The ambiance of the shop was different from other shops. The result is that the experience was unique for the customers. In this regard, the use of lighting in the store made the entire purchasing process special to the customers who choose to shop at the store.
The cognitive response was that the customers had good justifications for their decision to buy goods from the store because the environment was very appealing. Since the customers had decided to purchase products from this store, they found the efforts made to make their stay as appealing as possible very welcome. In this regard, the decorative lighting used in the store made the store more appealing to customers.
The behavioral response was to view the products with higher regard because of the care taken to present the products in the best light. The lights added to the mood and the beauty of the store. Their presence played an important role in helping the customers to become comfortable with their purchase decisions. When the customers faced post-purchase dissonance, such elements made them confident that the prices were right.
Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Firms Apparent Channel Strategy
Every business must have a channel strategy in order to deliver goods and services to its customers. The path that products follow from the manufacturer to the consumer constitutes its distribution channel. It is very important for firms to decide on the best channel strategy for their goods and services because channel strategy eventually determines profitability.
Sport Chek distributes various products from different manufacturers. Its channel strategy is selling goods to its customers in its retail shops. The firm also relies on its website for online distribution. In this sense, the firm has two main channel strategies for selling its products.
The current channel strategy is effective based on the following reasons. First, the company has a well-known brand name. This comes from its history and reputation as a supplier of quality sports merchandise. The strength of the brand makes it profitable for the company to operate physical stores. This distribution model is becoming more complex to use because of competition from online stores.
Secondly, the current strategy is effective because of the company’s web presence. Customers can decide to visit the store in person or to shop through its web portal. This gives the company an advantage over its competitors who lack one of the two distribution channels.
The third reason that makes the current channel strategy effective is that the store can give its customers a real-life experience when they shop in the physical stores. Even customers who never visit the stores can see pictures of the store. This gives them an idea of what shopping in the store feels like. Since the customers value the experience of shopping, the use of the two channels has created advantages that other players cannot match.
The company can improve its channel strategy to enhance its current performance in one way. The company’s website is too reliant on the physical stores. The website has photos of the physical store ostensibly to help customers to connect with it. This idea seems well-founded. However, the target market for any company that operates an online shopping system is not local. It transcends geographical boundaries. The company needs to consider how it can make the online shopping experience authentic and complete for customers who may never visit any of its physical stores.