Dim lighting could influence your desire to buy things - here's how
Nanyang Technological University
- Dim lighting may influence consumers to buy "for pleasure" rather than "for utility."
- A study found that ambient lighting plays a considerable role in the appeal of certain products.
- Being reminded of family and friends influences people to purchase based more on function.
If you've ever wondered what exactly compelled you to buy that pair of fancy shoes on a whim you later regretted, science may now have the answer.
It turns out that ambient lighting plays a considerable role in the appeal of certain products and driving consumer choice, a finding shop owners and marketers may be able to use to their advantage.
The finding that dim lighting may influence consumers to buy "for pleasure" rather than "for utility" was shown in a recent study by researchers from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Northwestern University in the United States.
However, the study found that being reminded of family and friends had the opposite effect on a consumer's preference for pleasurable products.
The findings were published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing last month after researchers from both universities conducted three related studies.
One of the studies saw 180 participants, recruited from an online platform, randomly assigned to dark or well-lit conditions.
They were tasked with making the following choices: picking between a competent job candidate and a fun job candidate; a mobile app for work and another for entertainment; a durable laptop for a home office and a stylish one; and between a documentary programme and a love-themed drama.
Afterwards, the participants answered questions that measured the extent to which "they wanted to be authentic", that is, whether they were making choices based on what they truly wanted.
"Analysis showed that when in darkness, the participants were truer to themselves and followed their heart, with a greater preference for the 'pleasurable' option as well," said assistant professor Irene Huang from NTU's Nanyang Business School.
Assistant Professor Huang, who conducts research in sensory marketing and emotions, also noted that the results suggest brighter surroundings may be a better choice if trying to highlight a product for its function.
She said: "The potential implication is that shop owners can adjust the store lighting to suit specific marketing campaigns, for example, to emphasise the functional or 'hedonic' aspects of their products."
Mallory Schlossberg/Business Insider
Previous research suggested that darker settings might cause people to choose a more pleasure-based option based on the fact that there's no one to see or judge their choices.
However, the findings show that it was the emotional disconnection the dark caused, rather than the lack of scrutiny by others, that resulted in a preference for pleasure-focused decisions.
Assistant Professor Huang also cited other factors that affect consumer choice. For instance, situations over which an individual has little control, such as traffic jams, are more likely to encourage a consumer to purchase a functional product.
According to Huang, consumers tend to just follow their heart when it's difficult to choose a product.
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