A closer look at the consuming gaze

July 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: Fujitsu Introduces Wireless Shopping Cart System

Related Stories

Fujitsu Introduces Wireless Shopping Cart System

February 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 Fujitsu ...

New research: What does your avatar say about you?

July 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 ...

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.