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What to buy: Mapping the multisensory consumer experience

Posted on: August 16, 2017
By: Allen Wallace,, 803-777-5667

Whether shopping online or in a store, what a consumer sees, hears, smells and feels all combine to play a complex role in their purchasing decisions. A University of South Carolina retailing professor is working to map out this decision making process and advance continued innovation in the rapidly evolving world of consumer science.

Jung-Hwan Kim, associate professor in USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, was awarded the Humanities and Social Sciences Basic Research Support Program grant by the National Research Foundation of Korea. She and three colleagues will use the $222,911.18 grant to develop an innovative consumer decision-making model that captures customers’ multisensory experiences and mental imagery processes in an omni-channel retail context.

“Dr. Kim’s grant highlights USC’s dedication to impactful partnership and to international collaboration,” said USC Department of Retailing Chair Mark Rosenbaum. “This research helps us understand how senses play a role in impacting a customer’s shopping journey, both in physical and virtual realms.”

One of Kim’s collaborators on the research is a faculty member at Indiana University, while the others are faculty members at universities in South Korea. The four combine to provide expertise in marketing psychology, digital marketing, retailing, and fashion merchandising for the project.

“Compared to a simpler time when a physical retail store was the only retail channel available, the current retail trend of an omni-channel setting offers various retail channels working seamlessly together to provide better shopping environments to consumers,” Kim said. “Our research will employ the interconnections among cognitive, affective, and conative dimensions to examine the consumer decision making process in relation to their multisensory experience.”

The National Research Foundation of Korea offers the grant with the stated goal of improving the efficiency and advancement of the national basic research support system covering all academic fields. Kim and her collaborators plan to complete their project by October of 2019.

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