Using warmth as the visual design of a store: Intimacy, relational needs, and approach intentions

Eunsoo Baek, Ho Jung Choo, Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Store design involuntarily affects consumer's thoughts and behaviors. Retailers use color and material to project a certain visual, modifying the environmental perceptions of a consumer's store experience. Although, a knowledge gap exists on how visual representations of warmth (via design elements) influence consumers in a retail context. In a series of three experiments, this research seeks to address this gap. Corresponding to assimilative effects of warmth, Study 1 shows a visually warm (vs. cold) store design induces intimacy. Based on complementary effects of warmth, Studies of 2A and 2B report a visually warm (vs. cold) store design is preferred only for consumers with high relational needs. Study 3 presents a boundary condition which reveals that our results do not hold for luxury brands. Together, the results provide valuable insights from a theoretical and managerial perspective on how retail spaces via design can influence consumers as nonverbal communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Relational needs
  • Retail environment
  • Sensory marketing
  • Store atmospherics
  • Visual design
  • Warmth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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