A closer look at the consuming gaze

Jul 30, 2012

Rows of chip bags in a vending machine, endless bottles of shampoo on pharmacy shelves, long lines of books arranged in the bestsellers section at the bookstore. From supermarket shelves to barroom beer selection, long lines of horizontally arranged products are the norm when it comes to the shopping experience.

But how does where a product is placed on the storeroom shelf influence which option a consumer will ultimately choose? It turns out that the shopper's eye has a very central focus.

"Consumers are more likely to purchase products placed in the middle of a display – without even being aware of it," says Onur Bodur. The associate professor from Concordia's John Molson School of Business is the co-author of a recent study forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research and co-authored by marketing researchers at HEC in France and the Aston Business School in England.

Using eye-tracking devices, Bodur and his colleauges investigated how location influences choices for products as varied as vitamins, meal replacement bars, and energy drinks.

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 decide on what product to buy, consumers did not accurately recall their choice process. What's more, they were not aware of any conscious visual focus on one area of the display over another.

What does uncovering these unconscious habits mean this mean for the average shopper? Greater awareness of buying behaviours should lead to more informed choices. Says Bodur, "by using this newfound knowledge that visual attention is naturally drawn to the center of a display, can consciously train themselves to make a more thorough visual scan of what's on offer."

When it comes to shopping, the visual equivalent to thinking outside of the box just might lead to savvier selections.

Explore further: Change 'authoritarian' football culture to produce future stars, says research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New research: What does your avatar say about you?

Jul 26, 2010

Old or young, beautiful or sinister - the choices are endless when designing an avatar or a virtual alter ego. In the end, do people choose one that is really different from themselves? Usually not, according to new Concordia ...

Fujitsu Introduces Wireless Shopping Cart System

Feb 22, 2005

Consumers can say good-bye to long checkout lines and hello to the new face of retail customer service - the U-Scan Shopper. Developed by Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc. in partnership with Klever Marketing, the ...

Recommended for you

Male-biased tweeting

18 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

20 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Not just the poor live hand-to-mouth

When the economy hits the skids, government stimulus checks to the poor sometimes follow. Stimulus programs—such as those in 2001, 2008 and 2009—are designed to boost the economy quickly by getting cash ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.