A comparison between structural equation modelling (SEM) and Bayesian SEM approaches on in-store behaviour

Publication Date05 Feb 2018
AuthorFon Sim Ong,Kok Wei Khong,Ken Kyid Yeoh,Osman Syuhaily,Othman Mohd. Nor
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information systems,Data management systems,Knowledge management,Knowledge sharing,Management science & operations,Supply chain management,Supply chain information systems,Logistics,Quality management/systems
A comparison between structural
equation modelling (SEM) and
Bayesian SEM approaches on
in-store behaviour
Fon Sim Ong, Kok Wei Khong and Ken Kyid Yeoh
Nottingham University Business School,
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Semenyih, Malaysia
Osman Syuhaily
Faculty of Human Ecology, University Putra Malaysia,
Serdang, Malaysia, and
Othman Mohd. Nor
Faculty of Business and Accountancy,
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of atmospherics and affective state on
shoppersin-store behaviour using the two approaches in struct ural equation modelling (SEM),
i.e. Frequentist and Bayesian approaches. Shoppersaffective state was tested for its mediating effect on
in-store shopping behaviour.
Design/methodology/approach The final sample consists of 382 respondents who were drawn from
shoppers at selected apparel stores in six of the most popular shopping malls around Kuala Lumpur
(Malaysia). A frequentist approach to SEM is common among researchers and offers generally an analysis of
the relationships between multiple latent variables and constructs. Alternatively, the Bayesian SEM (BSEM)
approach stems from the diffusion of the models posterior distributions using the Markov Chain Monte Carlo
technique. More specifically, this technique is inherently more flexible and substantive in determining
parameter estimates as compared to the more conventional, the frequentist approach to SEM.
Findings The resultsshow the mixed effectsof atmospheric cues in retailsetting on shoppersaffectivestate.
More specifically, the positive direct effect of atmospheric cues (music) on in-store behaviour was confirmed
while other atmospheric cues (colour and store layout) were found to be fully mediated by affective state.
The Bayesian approach was able to offer moredistinctive results complementingthe frequentist approach.
Research limitations/implications Although the current sample size is adequate, it will be interesting
to examine how a bigger sample size and different antecedents of in-store behaviour in retailing can affect the
comparison between the frequentist approach in SEM and BSEM.
Practical implications The authors found that a combination of well-designed store atmospherics and
layout store can produce pleasurable effects on shoppers resulting in positive affective state. This study
found that results from both frequentist and Bayesian approaches complement each other and it may be
beneficial for future studies to utilise both approaches in SEM.
Originality/value This paper met the aim to compare the approaches in SEM and the need to consider
both approaches on in-store shopping environment. Overall, the authors contend that the Bayesian approach
to SEM is a potentially viable alternative to frequentist SEM, especially when studies are conducted under
dynamic conditions such as apparel retailing.
Keywords Atmospherics, Affective state, Bayesian SEM, Frequentist structural equation modelling,
In-store behaviour, Markov Chain Monte Carlo
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Kotler (1974, p. 50) first defined atmospherics as the conscious designing of space to
create certain effects in buyers. Since 1970s, both retailers and marketers across the globe
have attempted to manipulate various aspects of store atmosphe rics that appeal to th e
Industrial Management & Data
Vol. 118 No. 1, 2018
pp. 41-64
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/IMDS-10-2016-0423
Received 6 October 2016
Revised 29 April 2017
Accepted 6 May 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
approaches on
consumer reactions. In fact, this long-standing preoccupation with atmospherics is
intensifying especially in the highly competitive retail sector worldwide (Kumar and
Kim, 2014). This is because both retailers and marketers regard store atmospherics as a
highly effective aspect of marketing that they could fully manipulate (Heung and
Gu, 2012; Turley and Chebat, 2002). Most importantly, there is a wealth of evidence that
most consumers consider store atmospherics as an important criterion when deciding
where to shop (see for instance, Nicholls et al., 2000; Kusumowidagdo et al., 2012).
This justifies retailersemphasis on creating an appealing environment to evoke shoppers
emotions that, in turn, trigger desirablebehaviours such as increasing time and money
spent, positive word-of-mouth communication, and higher repurchase intentions.
The widespread interest in atmospherics has also triggered a wealth of related academic
research (e.g. Mohan et al., 2012; Turley and Milliman, 2000; Heung and Gu, 2012; Ballantine
et al., 2010; Cai and Shannon, 2012; Haque and Rahman, 2009; Kumar et al., 2010; Ong et al., 2012).
Despite the significant amount of empirical work on atmospherics, existing evidence is largely
mixed and inconclusive. For instance, Hussain and Ali (2015) found that the use of music and
colour by retailers have insignificant impact on consumerspurchase intention. Therefore, even
though it may be intuitively appealing to presume that many typically researchedaspects of
atmospherics do significantly influence consumer behaviour; this may not necessarily be the
case. In addition, there is increasing recognition that:
(1) Wider contextual aspects matter when considering store atmospherics as, owing to
cultural differences, consumers do not behave in a generic manner across different
countries and regions worldwide. Here, we observe that some of the recent empirical
studies have explicitly taken these differences into account. For instance, Hussain
and Ali (2015) emphasised on the usefulness of studying store atmospherics within
the context of a developing country like Pakistan, while Dabija and Băbuţ(2014)
suggested a similar reason for studying consumers in Romania. Similarly, Jones
et al. (2010)conducted a bi-cultural analysisto uncover differences betweenAustralian
and American consumers while Mohan et al. (2012) conducted their research on the
distinctive behaviour of consumers in United Arab Emirates. Here, the contention is
that more studies in non-western developed economy settings are required.
(2) There are important distinctions in terms of which elements (and, mix of such
elements) of atmospherics are more relevant and/or matter more across different
industries, sectors and even between differing retail store formats. For example,
Dabija and Băbuţ(2014) highlighted the need to investigate consumer behaviour
within the context of non-food retail formats; Heung and Gu (2012) suggested the
need to look specifically at subsectors within the hospitality industry; Davis
and Hodges (2012) scrutinised department stores and mass merchandisers; Kumar
and Kim (2014) focused specifically on single-brand apparel retailers; Mohan
et al. (2013) discussed domains straddling retail store environment; Ha
and Jang (2012) scrutinised service environments such as amusement parks and
upscale restaurants where facilities/environmental elements might have more
important impact on satisfaction and also repurchase intention. Similarly,
Kaltcheva and Weitz (2006) speculated that grocery store customers experience a
strong task orientation while those who shop in fashion boutiques would display a
different set of orientations that is largely hedonic.
(3) Even though the need for more holistic considerations of atmospherics
(i.e. considering a range of atmospherics-related variables concurrently) is more
well-established in the extant literature (Heung and Gu, 2012), the exploration of
more complex relationships such as those involving moderating and/or mediating

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