What kind of lighting do customers prefer in retail spaces? How can store lighting be used to raise attention levels or extend the amount of time customers spend in shops?

Zumtobel has got to the bottom of these and similar questions in cooperation with prestigious research institutes during the course of laboratory research and field studies. The results suggest eight store lighting tips that improve the customer’s convenience and enhance mood.

That’s right: it is not all about brightness. Contrasts, i.e., the effect of light and dark areas, are decisive. Customer behavior in retail areas is influenced significantly by perception and a sense of well-being. Store lighting is an important design tool that impacts these parameters. Because light conveys emotions, lends spaces atmosphere, and makes it easier for people to find their way around.

Zumtobel’s latest applied research is devoted to the topic “Attention, attractiveness and perception mediated by lighting in retail spaces.” Zumtobel conducted a two-part study in cooperation with Jan Ejhed, head of the lighting laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and Roland Greule from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW).

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the factors that are decisive in store lighting when it comes to selling more merchandise, increasing traffic, and extending the amount of time customers spend in a shop.


Retail Lighting Research Design – Perception

The first part of the study was based on the question of the extent to which store lighting can influence customers’ subjective perceptions. In order to establish the kind of lighting situations that people prefer in shops and other retail spaces, 97 subjects were asked to directly compare and assess three lighting situations in virtually displayed shopping venues.

In the second part of the study this was followed by laboratory research and a field study in cooperation with Greule, and Felsch Lighting Design, in which the perception of the subjects in retail spaces was examined with reference to previously defined lighting parameters.

The lighting factors investigated included light color, light distribution, lighting intensity, and dynamic changes in brightness or color. Laboratory tests using test charts produced generally valid statements regarding visual effects such as contrast and color perception.

The laboratory results were then compared using real retail space situations. A Douglas perfume shop and a supermarket operated by the Austrian SPAR chain were used for the field projects. An eye-tracking camera system was used to capture subjects’ eye movements using modern measuring instruments.




Results: Eight Retail Lighting Recommendations

To recap the results, the investigation yielded technical lighting design principles that are especially insightful as far as the work of professional lighting designers is concerned. Ejhed sums up: “The study is a valuable resource and sets out key factors that should guide lighting design in shops and retail spaces. The result of this study shifts the focus of future lighting design: it shows the need to do more than simply attract the customer’s attention, and identifies the need to devise a new approach that will improve customer convenience and enhance the customer’s sense of well-being.”

Zumtobel Marketing Director Stefan Terzi goes on to say, “This new Zumtobel study provides valuable information that can be used to develop lighting solutions and their applications in the shopping and retail sector.”

  1. Instead of increasing brightness in shops, and therefore also energy consumption, it is advisable to design lighting that is always high-contrast, makes perception easier, and heightens levels of attention. Pinpoint accent lighting that stands out positively from the surrounding homogeneous ambient lighting is a suitable way of creating contrasts.
  2. Diffuse general lighting ensures a subjective sense of well-being. Vertical illuminance makes orientation easier in a room. The easier it is for customers to find their way around, the more likely they are to walk around a shop. Efforts must therefore be made to use vertical lighting to delimit the periphery of a space. At the same time, detailed accent lighting improves the perception and attractiveness of the goods displayed.
  3. Colors convey emotions and influence the acceptability of a space. The study results showed that cool color temperatures, such as cool-white, make areas appear more spacious whereas warm color temperatures create an impression of smallness and familiarity. Intermediate white light extends the amount of time customers spend in a shop and improves their sense of well-being, and should therefore be used for general lighting. For a store atmosphere that makes customers feel safe and secure, opt for warm-white light colors.
  4. There is a preference for various different light colors within a single lighting concept. Different color temperatures should therefore be consciously deployed across general lighting and vertical lighting. Cutting-edge tunable white LED luminaire technology makes it possible to obtain color temperature changes using control systems, and deserves special consideration in this respect.
  5. There are differences in perception depending on gender, age, and groups of buyers: men take in a broad overview of a retail space, for example, whereas women look at details. It is therefore important to adapt the direction of light, light color, and lighting intensity dynamically over the course of the day to make sure it is appropriate to the target group’s behavior.
  6. Store windows are often the customer’s first point of contact: accent lighting on merchandise in addition to daylight is preferred here. This also involves using pinpoint accenting to promote perceived contrasts. In the evening and when there is little daylight, even low illuminance levels are sufficient to attract the curiosity of passers-by with wide-area, subtly changing ambient lighting.
  7. Eye-tracking studies at the Douglas and SPAR venues proved that the lower levels of shelves in particular go relatively unnoticed. Targeted accent lighting or dynamic lighting in the lower third of shelves results in customers lingering longer and may possibly boost sales. Shelf-integrated lighting is recommended in principle at all levels.
  8. The way that light is directed onto shelves is also crucial: wide-area backlighting of shelves produces a more attractive effect than accent lighting only. A combination of backlighting and accent lighting makes identification of merchandise easier and makes the presented goods look more attractive.

A planned extension of the study is set to investigate dynamic lighting control concepts for shop applications in particular.


Research credits

Professor Jan Ejhed is the head of the lighting laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden. He is also head of Division 3 at CIE, professor at the School of Design of the Linnaeus University, and runs his own company. He brought in student Xu Haoming to assist him in his research.

Since 1996, Prof. Roland Greule has been a professor of lighting technology at the University of Applied Sciences, HAW Hamburg. He is currently vice-dean of the Design, Media and Information (DMI) School.

Markus Felsch studied lighting design at the HAWK Hildesheim. He has run Felsch Lighting Design since 2004, and mainly devotes himself to perception-based lighting concepts for retail areas.

Zumtobel Lighting GmbH Zumtobel is continually researching the effects of light in various application areas. Collaboration with prestigious research institutes provides an important network that enables the luminaire manufacturer to communicate with researchers and, together, gain new knowledge relating to the use of lighting solutions that can be harnessed for future product development work.

The Zumtobel brand is a leading international supplier of integral lighting solutions that enable people to experience the interplay of light and architecture. As a leader in innovation, the luminaire manufacturer provides a comprehensive range of high-quality luminaires and lighting management systems for the most varied application areas, including store lighting.

Zumtobel is a brand of the Zumtobel AG group with its head office in Dornbirn, Vorarlberg (Austria).

Source: www.zumtobelgroup.com/en