Modeling Shopper Responses to Retail Digital Signage

Modeling Shopper Responses to Retail Digital Signage

Charles Dennis (Brunel University, UK), Andrew Newman (University of Salford, UK), Richard Michon (Ryerson University, Canada), J. Josko Brakus (Brunel University, UK) and Len Tiu Wright (De Montfort University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-738-8.ch003
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In addition to the obvious application to retailers in improving business-to-consumer appeal to shoppers the findings are of use to suppliers of digital signage in business-to-business marketing of their systems to retailers.
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This chapter evaluates the impact of digital signage, or digital communications networks (DCNs), on shoppers’ perceptions of the retail environment, positive affect, and approach behavior in a shopping mall context. Digital signage consists of ‘screen displays located in public spaces showing video material (or private TV channels)’ (Clarke, 2003). TV screens have been used in retail environments for some time but since the advent of digital control and flat screens, the use of networks of screens has made digital signage available as an effective, easily controlled communication medium. Referring to digital billboards, i.e. outdoor, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America describes them as: ‘ … updated electronically through a variety of methods. Some are networked together, most are operated remotely, and all of them can be updated quickly, sometimes with just the click of a mouse. This ability gives digital [signage] flexibility and nimbleness. This nimbleness gives local businesses a unique and powerful way to reach a large number of geographically targeted consumers very quickly’ (OAAA, 2009).

Digital signage content may include, for example, advertisements, community information, entertainment and news. According to POPAI (Point of Purchase Association International), more than 70 percent of purchase decisions are made in store at the point of purchase (Jugger, 1999). Such screen networks go by many names but we use the terminology ‘digital signage’ here as being most commonly used internationally. Similarly, we use ‘shopping mall’ (or simply ‘mall’) as the term becoming more accepted internationally for what has, particularly in Europe, previously been referred to as a ‘shopping centre’ (or ‘shopping center’), i.e. a ‘planned retail development … managed and marketed as a unit’ with a ‘pedestrian precinct covered from the weather’ (Dennis, 2005, adapting from Guy, 1994 and citing Reynolds, 1993).

Digital signage aims to talk to shoppers while they are captive and in the mood to buy. Retailers in countries including the US (Albertson’s, Target, Kroger), the UK (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury) and China (Carrefour) have launched digital signage networks. In addition to pushing merchandise, digital signage also generates hefty advertising revenues. Brand manufacturers pay anywhere from to $60,000 to $293,000 for a four-week campaign on Wal-Mart’s TV network connecting more than 2,500 stores (The Economist, 2006). Although research figures are sparse, industry insiders estimate that digital signage is currently worth around $2billion in the US ( 2008).

Digital signage might be considered as contributing to retail atmospherics. Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, the firm that conducts store atmospherics surveys for Chain Store Age (Wilson, 2005) categorizes in-store TV among interactive atmospheric elements helping retailers building a competitive advantage. Research indicates that shoppers tend to consider that they would benefit from technological innovations such as electronic shelf-edge displays (a special case of digital signage) and product information kiosks (which parallel digital signage) (Burke, 2002).

This chapter examines the effect of a digital signage network in contributing to retail atmospherics by influencing shoppers’ perceptions of the overall retail environment and approach/avoidance responses. The research takes place in shopping mall environments, which differ from the retail store in not being aimed primarily at promoting a single retailer. Rather, digital signage in the mall environment is similar to the outdoor digital billboard, where it is often used to display breaking news, community information and promote a range of local retailers (OAAA, 2009). As outlined by Underhill (2004), the mall is a store of stores, and better provision of information and perceptions of the atmosphere and environment of a mall should enhance shoppers’ experiences such that they are likely to stay longer and spend more money (Wright, Newman and Dennis, 2006).

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