How Smell and Vision Come Together for Sustainable Apparel Decision-making: An Investigation into the Potential for Smell and Vision to Prime Consumers towards Sustainable Purchasing Decisions in In-Store Retail: Using Eye Tracking, Self-reporting, and Choice Behavior

Yeeun (Karina) Kim & Dorina Hemantkumar Khatri

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine if a nature related ambient scent can prime consumers to increase level of cognitive processing for a sustainable apparel product. Design/Methodology/Approach: This research is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, utilising self-report surveys and interviews with regards to qualitative data, and eye tracking as well as covert behavioural choice with regards to quantitative data. Findings: Findings indicate that ambient nature scent does not impact the level of cognitive processing given towards a sustainable apparel product. Human-nature connectedness was too weak, sustainability leverage points were not deep enough and diverse and numerous enough. Associative priming was successful, however goal priming was not. Research Limitations: Due to COVID19 and the university setting, sample size and demographic is limited and may not be generalised. The ecological validity is weakened with regards to in-store retail extrapolations by the desktop eye tracking method. More research needs to be done in the field of human-nature theory and pro-sustainable behaviour, specifically in the context of its impact on sustainable apparel retail. Academic Implications: The introduction of the ‘S-O-R of Priming with Olfaction & Vision’ model, synthesizing olfaction, vision, and priming, within the context of sustainable decision-making, the finding that human-nature connectedness is weakened even with sustainability-apparel conscious consumers, and the assertion that sensory nudging ethics should be judged based on regular nudging ethics Managerial Implications: The usage of the synthesized S-O-R model ‘S-O-R of Priming with Olfaction & Vision’ by companies to make more informed decisions, the need for sustainable apparel organizations to implement numerous and varied human-nature connectedness targeting initiatives in-store, and the need for sustainable apparel organizations to address the core issue of weakened human-nature connectedness to make consumers more susceptible to nature based sustainability primes. Originality/Value: The paper proposes a model that synthesizes eye tracking, olfaction, and priming, for in-store sustainability apparel decision making. The paper is the first to investigate in-store sustainability apparel marketing from the combined perspective of olfaction and vision, priming, and human-nature connectedness.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages94
SupervisorsJesper Clement