Articles > Startups

What is a Gruen Transfer?

July 23, 2022   Maria MubeenPhilip Evangelou

The term Gruen transfer is named after the architect Victor Gruen. It is the name given to the intentional design of shopping malls and stores which are created in a way to distract and confuse customers. 

How Does it Work?

The layout of shopping malls, large department or retail stores are designed in a manner that makes the customer forget what they initially came to buy instead becoming intrigued by other items before finally reaching what they initially came to buy.

The Gruen Transfer layout aims to provoke the five senses of customers by placing enticing products such as freshly made foods, sale items with bright signage or free samples at the front of the store or within a short distance of the entrance. When the customer’s senses are overwhelmed by these distractions most often they will forget about what they actually came to buy. Thus resulting in customers spending more time than intended in the store and almost always end up buying impulsively.

History Of The Effectiveness Of The Gruen Transfer

The Gruen transfer has been one of the most effective ways for retail stores and shopping malls to influence consumer behaviour with minimal effort. Statistics have shown that around 50% of customer purchases are unplanned and deviate from their intended shopping list.

Around the 1950s, Gruen was commissioned to create his first shopping mall; his intention was to create a third place of interaction for people. The primary place being home and second place being work Gruen was successful in creating a place that had all the amenities that allowed people to shop and interact with others. These shopping malls attracted large crowds and quickly grew to become popular places of entertainment. 

Between the 1960s-90s, shopping malls became the most appealing places to be and part of a normal routine for people. Due to such demand shopping malls were later adapted into ‘Lifestyle Centres’ that consisted of open roof street like areas with many boutiques and restaurants. These adaptations aligned with the consumer preferences around the late 90s. Since then shopping malls have grown vastly catering to consumer behaviours and desires over the years. 

Simply said, the Gruen transfer has proven to be effective and continues to do so all over the world today.

Key takeaway 

Although architects today have said Gruen’s shopping mall designs have been rather ordinary in nature the Gruen transfer is not simply based on the exterior of stores. Together with the lighting, displays, decorative structures, music and general atmosphere the Gruen transfer plays a psychological effect on customers. This effect fulfils the purpose of distracting customers which in turn is beneficial for shopping malls, department and retail stores.

About Maria Mubeen

Avatar photoMaria is a legal intern at Openlegal and is currently in her third year studying Law and Business at UTS. Her interests are commercial law, contract law, and litigation.

About Philip Evangelou

phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.