Hollister’s lighting is ‘not bonkers’, say scientists

THE EXTREMELY low light levels in Hollister stores appear to have a solid basis in science and could be a factor in the US teen fashion brand’s success, according to a new report.

The retailer – famous as the only shops which get brighter under emergency lighting – is so dark that customers complain of bumping into the fixtures and fittings.

Its approach to illumination has been denounced by lighting professionals – but now those critics may have to eat their words.

Lux Review measured measured light levels in Hollister’s flagship Regent Street store in London and found alarmingly low levels. The highest illuminance we measured on the merchandise was 148 lx with a low of just 1 lx. The average was 106 lx. Walkways were lit at an average of 1.8 lx, with a low of 0.7 lx.

A study by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Northwestern University in the USA shows that under very low ambient lighting, customers shop for pleasure and not usefulness. In fact, consumers become more authentic in their choices and they choose hedonistic over utilitarian options because these choices reflect what they truly want.

The findings appear to show that Hollister’s approach may be the right one for its merchandise of desirable but not essential fashion items.

Researchers say the reason shoppers make choices purely for themselves in dark conditions is that they have a feeling of disconnection from others and feel less compelled to conform to social norms.

The 180 participants in the study were randomly assigned to one of the two lighting conditions. All participants then made several consumption choices, each between a hedonistic and utilitarian option. The results provide evidence that ambient darkness increases consumers' self-authenticity, which increases hedonistic choice. ‘These results support our position that ambient darkness may result in disconnecting from others, which then results in a greater self-authenticity,’ said the researchers.

Lux Review measured light levels in Hollister’s flagship Regent Street store in London and found alarmingly low levels. The highest illuminance we measured on the merchandise was 148 lx with a low of just 1 lx. The average was 106 lx. Walkways were lit at an average of 1.8 lx, with a low of 0.7 lx.

However, the lighting hasn’t deterred fashion-conscious teens in search of some Southern Californian glamour. Founded by Abercrombie & Fitch in 2000, Hollister has now eclipsed its parent in terms of total revenue and has 538 stores compared to Abercrombie’s 330. Hollister generated 58 per cent of the company's revenue in 2017. 

  • Read the full survey HERE.

 

  • The Lighting for Retail and Hospitality conference takes place alongside the LuxLive 2018 exhibition at ExCeL London on Wednesday 14 November 2018. It's free to retailers. More information HERE.

 

Main pic courtesy Think Retail 2017

 

 

Comments 7

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Ha Ha Ha . They didn't have to carry out scientific tests for something so obvious . Its all part of the brand and young people love dark places , preferably with loud music , as it keeps out all the oldies . The lighting industry spend so much time measuring that they lose the plot and forget there are people involved in the equation. But lets just wait and see what happens when the lawsuits start for accidents in the shops

I don't recall seeing that technique in the IESNA handbook RP-2-17.

There is a basic principle in effect here that should not need two universities to "discover". I was educated to this by retailers early in my career and it holds true to this day. Dramatic spaces generally equate to high quality and the expectation of high cost, and brightly lighted spaces generally equate to an expectation of low cost. However, drama does not work well in large spaces. American department store designers learned this decades ago, in part leading to open areas (less drama) and more discreet and dramatic areas that draw you in from the "average" goods. This modulation informs and gives buyers choice, probably better than some app on your cell phone. I've used the method successfully for decades.

My wife and kids would love to shop there. The first thing every morning the dimmer goes to zero then creeps up to Hollister level. I'm keeping her out of that store.

Perhaps the loss prevention cameras are IR types, able to see well without much light? Or perhaps they have not yet observed the losses.

Did the university also measure the staff turnover?

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