In business, we are aware of how the environment can influence behaviour.
Colours influence how we feel – red is saying something very different to an individual than pastel greens and blues. Environmental temperature makes us act in different ways. Where an item/product is placed makes a difference.
In a supermarket, product placement has an affect on the shoppers’ buying patterns. Food manufacturers pay more money to have items placed at the end of an aisle, so that as the shopper turns slowly into the next aisle, there is a greater chance of purchasing the item that is positioned so suggestively as there is an increase in browsing time.
Bread and milk are conveniently placed at the back of a store because they are common items to purchase. The shopper has to pass other items on the way to the bread and milk, which may trigger other impulse purchases on their journey.
If, in a clothing store, rails of items are placed too close together, shoppers will be put off browsing if they come too close to another person on the opposite rail. This is sometimes referred to as ‘butt-brushing’.
Coffee houses in major cities have more breakfast bar areas, to encourage busy individuals to stop and stay whilst doing emails and preparing presentations. The consumer can work in isolation while having a coffee and charging their laptop.
This space design may encourage an increase in frequency of visit for this client group. For the same coffee house in a busy shopping mall the breakfast bar area may be of limited use, as the consumer may want a place for great coffee, rest and conversation with others.
Therefore, a more relaxed social environment may be required, with comfortable chairs and low tables situated to encourage conversation with others.
Is an individual going to sacrifice an opportunity to relax and socialise with friends, just for a great cup of coffee, whilst having to turn their body awkwardly to face their friends to interact, at the breakfast bar? Or, are they going to find somewhere else to spend their money for coffee, with an opportunity for rest and conversation? Understanding the audience is key!
This is why knowing and understanding the end-user (the facility audience) is key when it comes to facility design, product choice and layout. Having a facility story (message, theme) is fundamental when designing environments that inspire because stories/themes are a way of demonstrating a unique difference and something that a consumer would want to buy into.
Creating great environments that support the facility story is essential to continually reinforce the unique message. Themed restaurants would be less than convincing and have less worth or value to the end user if the theme was not totally supported by the right type of environment. Theme parks would also be less persuasive, if not fully supported by an environment that reinforces the story/theme.
Although none of these examples are in any way connected to the gym space, it’s clear that the design/layout of spaces, influences behaviour.