What psychology has to do with retail design?

 

This is still a common sentiment amongst designers and retail professionals.

Even though the designers and retailers often focus on creating amazing experience to effect emotional engagement and build long-term relationships with customers, the idea of including an expert in consumer behaviour within the design process does not come up too often.

This has been my experience for a number of years but in the last 12-18 months we are seeing more interest from retailers and designers to understand the impact that their designs have on consumer behaviour and therefore the commercial effectiveness.

I always thought that if we can understand how human mind works (even a bit), we can make better business and creative decisions.

If businesses can hire organisational psychologists to help with hiring, company culture and internal communication, how come they won’t do the same when it comes to their communication with their customers?

As a psychologist I understand that what people are exposed to in their everyday life is what creates ideas. Therefore, it is understandable that designers and retailers did not think about including a psychologist in the design process of their spaces before. They simply never been told that it can enhance the customer experience and result in higher commercial effectiveness of their designs.

But what does it really mean? What psychologist can actually do during a retail design process?

The crucial insight that a psychologist can bring into the design process is the in-depth understanding of human perception, i.e. how all the senses work, how the brain is processing all the environmental stimuli like colours, textures and patterns, and most importantly what is the effect of these stimuli on consumer behaviour.

Another aspect of the human perception is how human brain is actually perceiving brands and where a retail strore design fits into this process. Basically, how to achieve specific brand perception via specific elements of the retail environment.

So we have the overarching understanding of the entirety of human perception and then the specific details of how brain perceives a brand. The next step is the understanding of how design affects consumer behaviour. More specifically how various elements of the retail design can evoke specific emotions, behaviours and decisions and what does it mean for the overal customer experience and commercial effectiveness.

I have spoken on this subject at the Retail Design Expo 2016. You can watch the talk here.

Store Design - Commercial Effectiveness Diagram

 

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