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Lighting up emotions can boost your sales

October 2017

I like to think of myself as a pretty rational guy. I weigh up pros and cons and try to leave emotion at the door, particularly when it comes to spending money. That’s not to say I can’t be emotional (if you don’t cry at Marley and Me you have a heart of stone), but head generally rules heart and seems like a lot of retailers agree.

85% of them view the provision of product details as a key factor in promoting their product. Whilst it may feel too soon to talk about, Christmas is coming. In the next couple of months, we will have thousands of product features thrown at us to attempt to win us over, but what will make us choose one product over another?

There are always the intangibles. You may refer to it as ‘going with your gut’, but these ‘hunches’ are potentially more important than you realised. Experts claim 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously: using fMRI Neuro imagery, studies have shown that consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts) to make decisions.

Now, we are all aware that light affects our mood and mental state. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been proven to affect between 2 and 10% of the population, depending on the study you read. But light has been shown to affect us emotionally in more ways than you might think. Research in the Consumer Journal of Psychology claims that the more intense the lighting, the more intense the emotional reaction. The research – which comprises 6 separate studies – covers a range of scenarios from our reactions words to even how we perceive spicy food. The study concluded, “turning down the light, effortless and unassuming as it may seem, can reduce emotionality in everyday decisions, most of which take place under bright light”

What is clear, is that light can exaggerate the way we feel and this can affect our decision making. From a retailers’ perspective, it is important to carefully consider the impact of light in your stores. Are you looking to increase emotional response to trigger larger purchases, or tap into the more logical part of the brain that is looking for better value? There is no one size fits all solution but inevitably there are anomalies who buck this trend, purely because they have taken time to digest how light can become part of their brand. 

Lighting up emotions can boost your sales

Hollister is a prime example of this – they have chosen a dim warm ambiance for their stores that has become a crucial part of their identity. Contrast this with Zara – they have a bright store with high lux levels – driving a heightened emotional response. The key difference is that for Zara light in store is not integral to the brand, but to the customer experience.


Whether you are lighting a clothes store, a supermarket or even an office, it is important to consider the impact of light. In addition to thinking about how bright you want the space to be, glare levels and energy savings, you need to take the time to ask two key questions:


1)       What emotive response will the lighting you have selected have on your customers or employees?

2)      How does this emotive response fit with your brand identity? 

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