Effectively offending to sell: consumer response to shocking visual merchandising presentations

Ortega-S, Anali Alfonsina, author
Hyllegard, Karen, advisor
Yan, Ruoh-Nan, committee member
Banning, James H., committee member
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In recent years, the use of shocking message appeals has become increasingly commonplace in the fashion industry, particularly in the context of print advertising. Sex and violence are two of the specific types of message appeals that are often employed in the creation of shocking advertising or promotions. Despite the increased use of this type of message appeal across all forms of promotion, research into the efficacy of this message appeal has focused primarily on print advertising. Limited research exists on the subject of visual merchandising, in general, and even less exists on store window presentations, in particular, despite the importance of this form of promotion for retailers. For these reasons this study focused on consumers' reactions to the use of shocking message appeals in visual merchandising presentations, specifically store window displays. The purpose of this study was to examine consumers' responses to the use of shocking message appeals in visual merchandising, specifically store window presentations, to promote the sale of apparel. An integrated theoretical framework that draws from the information processing model (McGuire, 1978), the elaboration likelihood model (Petty and Cacioppo, 1983), and the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975) informed the development of this study. Together, these models provided a basis for the study of how consumers process information obtained from viewing store window displays, as well as how attitudes toward a retailer may be influenced by window displays and how those attitudes may, in turn, influence consumers' patronage intentions toward a retailer. An intercept survey was employed to collect data for this study. The sample consisted of 246 students from Colorado State University; 111 male participants, and 135 female participants. T-tests, one-way analysis of variance, multivariate analysis of variance, and regressions were conducted to analyze the data. Results indicated that gender, clothing involvement, and perception of shock impacted consumers' responses to the use of shocking message appeals in store window presentations, including consumers' elaborative (information) processing and attitudes. Findings revealed that upon viewing the window presentation, women engaged in more information processing than did men, and that men perceived the window presentations to be less shocking than did women. Findings also revealed that participants' perceptions of the level of shock present in the window displays as well as their level of clothing involvement impacted their elaborative processing. Perceptions of the level of shock present in the window displays also impacted attitudes toward the window display and toward the retail store. Further, attitude toward window presentation, attitude toward retail store, and elaborative processing predicted store patronage intentions. The findings from this study provide multiple implications related to the use of shocking message appeals in store window displays for apparel retailers that target young adults. These findings suggest retailers need to be cautious when employing shocking message appeals in their store window display so as to avoid negative repercussions. However, these findings also suggest a slight level of shock can have a positive impact on store patronage intentions, and in turn, for the retailer.
2011 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights Access
shocking message appeal
window displays
visual merchandising
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