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Analyzing the effects of storefront window display transparency on perceived store Attractiveness and Approach behavior

This study evaluated the impact of visual transparency vs. opaqueness in storefront window displays in relation to consumer responses and approach behavior. While there is extensive prior literature analyzing various design features in such exterior-facing displays, the ability to see through or around the window displays to observe the store interior has not received much research attention. Theories of cognitive processing fluency suggest that reductions in environmental “unknowns” are associated with feelings of pleasure, comfort, and environmental affinity. Thus, we hypothesized that more transparent window displays would be associated with higher ratings of store attractiveness, more time spent observing the stores, and a greater likelihood of participants approaching the stores after viewing the displays. The use of a virtual-reality approach made it possible to isolate and adjust the storefront display transparency while holding other environmental variables constant. Our findings confirmed that highly transparent window displays were associated with greater attractiveness ratings and longer durations of observation, and that these effects were mediated by a reduction in perceived visual complexity and increases in feelings of pleasure. We did not find a significant difference in approach behavior, but this may be due to the fact that our participants were aware they could not actually enter the stores in the VR presentation. The results provisionally indicate that retailers should attend to the visibility of the ground-level store interior when designing their window displays.

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