Long lines of horizontally arranged products are the norm when it comes to the holiday shopping experience, and a team of researchers in Canada, France and England have suggested that a product's placement on the storeroom shelf influences which one a consumer will ultimately choose.
"Consumers are more likely to purchase products placed in the middle of a display -- without even being aware of it," says Onur Bodur, associate professor from Concordia's John Molson School of Business in Canada.
The study appears in the Journal of Consumer Research, combining Bodur’s work along with marketing researchers at HEC in France and the Aston Business School in England.
Using eye-tracking devices, Bodur and his colleagues investigated how location influences choices for a variety of products, including cosmetics and food items.
They found that consumers would increase their visual focus on the central option in a product display area in the final five seconds of the decision-making process; and that was the point at which they determined which option to choose.
It turns out that the process is a subconscious one. When asked how they had come to choose which product to buy, consumers did not accurately recall their reasons for their decision. What's more, they were not aware of any conscious visual focus on one area of the display over another.
"By using this newfound knowledge that visual attention is naturally drawn to the center of a display, consumers can consciously train themselves to make a more thorough visual scan of what's on offer," says Bodur.
By understanding consumer behavior and what influences purchasing decisions at the point of sale, beauty and cosmetics players can greater understand consumer needs, and enhance the overall shopping experience.
With increased competition and choice of products, the experience at the point of sale is one of the most important distinguishing factors that shapes the beauty buyers' decision.
Thanks to this study, cosmetics companies can better understand all aspects of the point-of-sale experience and how this may affect brand performance.