Retailers have long understood the importance of store environment in enhancing the shopping experience, and past research has examined the main effects of many pleasant ambient stimuli such as music and scent. To further our theoretical understanding, we extend the notion of Gestalt to consumers' perceptions of retail environments and demonstrated that consumers perceive Services-capes holistically. Specifically, we suggest that the arousing quality of ambient stimuli is one dimension along which holistic evaluations occur, and that pleasant ambient stimuli are perceived more positively when their arousing qualities match rather than mismatch. We manipulated scent and music in a 3 (no music, pleasant low arousal and high arousal music) by 3 (no scent, pleasant low and high arousal scents) factorial design in a field setting. Our findings show that when ambient scent and music are congruent with each other in terms of their arousing qualities, consumers rate the environment significantly more positive, exhibit higher levels of approach and impulse buying behaviors, and experience enhanced satisfaction than when these environmental cues were at odds with each other.
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