Flooring can affect how consumers make purchase decisions

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Washington, June 4 (ANI): The way people judge products may be influenced by the ground beneath them, says a new study.

In the study, authors Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, and Juliet Zhu and Lan Jiang (University of British Columbia) explored the feelings evoked by the two most common flooring types in retail environments: hard vinyl tile and carpet.

"When a person stands on carpeted flooring, it feels comforting. But the irony is that when people stand on carpet, they will judge products that are close to them as less comforting," said Meyers-Levy.

The authors first conducted a study to show that carpeting truly does evoke a greater sense of physical comfort than tiled flooring.

Meyers-Levy said: "Given this finding, we then tackled a more practical and intriguing question. Would these bodily sensations elicited by the flooring transfer to people's assessments of products that they observe while shopping?"

The researchers had participants stand on either soft pile carpet or hard tile and view products that were either close to them or moderately far away.

When the products were a moderate distance away, people's judgments of them were unconsciously guided by their bodily sensations. That is, if they were standing on soft carpet and viewed a product that was moderately far away, they judged that item's appearance to be comforting.

However, people who examined products while standing on this same plush carpet judged items that were close by as being less comforting than they did if the products were moderately far away.

"When we look at objects that are close by, the bodily sensations elicited by the flooring are more likely to be used as a comparison standard, not an interpretive frame," said Meyers-Levy.

These findings have important implications for all brick and mortar retailers and service providers. Elements of interior dicor such as flooring are more than matters of function or style. They may be directly tied to how a consumer perceives products, and that can determine whether or not the consumer purchases the good.

Standing on solid ground with your consumers has always been important, but this research suggests that it may be the difference between a sale and failure to close the deal.

The study has been published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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