Store lighting needs to be more than functional. Shop lighting should evoke positive emotional states in shoppers. Ideally, store lighting should make products look good and create a sense of well-being that encourages impulsive purchasing.

Drawing on studies made in the field of ‘consumer psychology’, store lighting design involves the following:

Creating a ‘Retail Experience’

The psychology behind it: people will spend more time in a shop and buy more if they feel good, energetic, and happy, while they are in the shop.

Lighting and music are used together to create ‘ambience’ in stores – just as in restaurants and bars, though the lighting used may be very different. In some shops, they also add scents (piped through vents in large department stores) to influence consumers.

Dressing Room Lighting:

The psychology behind it: people will be more inclined to spend money if they feel good about themselves.

Lighting can have a dramatic effect on what you see when you look in the mirror. What you see has an instant effect on both your mood and self-confidence. In turn, this has a significant impact on your decision-making. In a nutshell: if you feel pretty (or handsome), you’ll be more inclined to max out the credit card. You’ll tell yourself that you ‘deserve to spoil yourself’.

Overhead lighting in dressing rooms can create unflattering facial shadows. Frontal lighting shows off both the face and the clothes better but can make you look bigger. The ideal is a combination of the two types of lighting, with a carefully controlled balance between dim and bright.

Making Products look Brighter – and Fresher:

The psychology behind it: people will be more inclined buy brightly coloured products and brighter fresher-looking produce.

Lighting can dramatically affect the colour and ‘apparent quality’ of products. Often wonder why that steak looked so RED, but now you have it at home, it looks more ‘brownish’? That’s due to specific strip-lighting used in supermarket meat counters that promotes red wavelengths.

Don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with your steak – it’s just never THAT red in real life. Next time you walk into a store, take a look around and you will begin to understand the psychology behind store lighting, you will never shop the same again.