Retail Marketing

How Engagement Shapes Consumer Behavior Across Retail Settings

The rise of e-commerce, digital marketing, and mobility have radically transformed the ways shoppers engage with brands and stores. The Spiegel Research Center is studying these changes and uncovering data-driven insights that retailers can use to maximize the value of their engagement to drive increased purchases in both brick-and-mortar and online settings.

Our first study in this series looks at how shoppers engage with brick-and-mortar stores in a mall setting. Subsequent reports will analyze how this behavior changes when shoppers are in a digital mall and other settings.

Study No. 1: Engagement in Malls

It’s Complicated: Analyzing the Relationship Between Malls, Stores, and Today’s Consumers

By analyzing engagement and purchase data, the Spiegel Research Center uncovered insights about how people shop and buy in stores within malls.

Questions we address:
  1. Do shoppers go to malls to visit one store or to browse among several?
  2. Does engagement at the mall-level matter?
  3. Is real-time, location-based marketing effective??
  4. Does engagement have a different impact on “planners” than on “impulse shoppers?”
  5. Is it more important for stores in a mall to play offense or defense?
  6. Does engagement exclusivity matter?
  7. What type of engagement has the greatest impact on sales?


Insights into How Shoppers Engage with Stores in Shopping Malls


Number of stores visited per mall visit

number of stores per visit



Our research found that the lion’s share of mall shoppers are either one-store shoppers (36%) or serial browsers who visit four or more stores (44%).

Impact of real-time push messages on store visits

Impact of real-time push messages on store visits




Shoppers of all loyalty levels visited additional stores after receiving real-time, location-based push notifications (RTMs). The impact, however, was greater among the most-loyal shoppers, who were 2.70x more likely to visit additional stores after receiving a message, whereas shoppers of all other loyalty levels were only 1.78x more likely.

Likelihood of visiting additional stores after receiving real-time push messages

Likelihood of visiting additional stores after receiving real-time push messages




For shoppers who plan their mall trips ahead of time by liking or clipping ads in their news feed, their decision of how many stores to visit was largely unaffected by receiving RTMs. Non-planners, however, were more likely to visit additional stores after receiving an RTM.

Exclusivity’s impact on store visits by potential customers

Exclusivity impact on store visits by potential customers




Shoppers who “favorited” only Store A were significantly more likely to purchase from Store A than shoppers who favorited Store A and other stores.

Exclusivity’s impact on purchase amount by existing customers

Exclusivity impact on purchase amount by existing customers




When existing customers favorited only Store A, their future purchases increased by nearly 8%. But when existing customers favorited Store A along with other stores, it had a slightly negative impact on future purchases.


Dive Deeper into Spiegel’s Retail Marketing Research

To learn more about Spiegel’s research into how engagement influences purchase behavior in various retail environments, we invite you to explore our full library of content on the subject.


Academic Journal Publications

  • Kim, S.J., Wang, R. J.H., Maslowska, E., & Malthouse, E.C. (2015). The Effects of Adopting and Using a Brand’s Mobile Application on Customers’ Subsequent Purchase Behavior. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 31, 28-41. [Abstract]
  • Wang, R, Malthouse, E.C., Krishnamurthi, L. (2015). On the Go: How Mobile Shopping Affects Customer Purchase Behavior. Journal of Retailing, 91(2), 217-234. [Abstract]
  • Wang, Kim and Malthouse (2016), Branded Apps and Mobile Platforms as New Tools for Advertising, The New Advertising: Branding, Content and Consumer Relationships in the Data-driven Social Media Era, edited by Ruth Brown, Valerie Jones and Bryan Ming Wang, Praeger, Santa Barbara, CA. [Abstract]

White Papers and E-Books

  • Wang, R. (2016). Shopping on the Go: How Mobile Usage Affects Customer Purchase Behaviors. Spiegel Research Center. [Full white paper]
  • Collinger, T. Branded App ROI: Evidence of the Value of Consumer Engagement Via Branded Apps. Spiegel Research Center. [Full e-book]


Contact Us

To learn more about Spiegel’s groundbreaking research into how engagement occurs via online reviews and other channels, contact:

Tom Collinger
Executive Director – Spiegel Research Center

t-collinger@northwestern.edu
847.467.3433