Are consumers aware that they are drawn to the center when choosing products?

Jul 16, 2012

Consumers are more likely to select products located in the horizontal center of a display and may not make the best choices as a result, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"A close investigation of reveals that consumers do not accurately recall their choice process. Our findings emphasize the relationship between horizontal location, attention, and choice," write authors A. Selin Atalay (HEC Paris), H. Onur Bodur (Concordia University), and Dina Rasolofoarison (Aston Business School).

Many products are arranged horizontally. For example, rows of snack bars in a , bottles displaying the beer selection in a bar, or jars of peanut butter on a supermarket shelf. How does this influence which option a consumer will choose?

Using eye-tracking devices, the authors investigated how location influences choices for products as varied as vitamins, meal replacement bars, and . Consumers had a tendency to increase their visual focus on the central option in the final five seconds prior to a decision and this determined which option they would choose. Consumers did not accurately recall their choice process and were not aware of any conscious visual focus.

Another study in a retail environment demonstrated that the centrally located item within a product category is chosen more often, even when it is not placed in the center of the shelf or visual field. Consumers would make better choices if they were aware that their attention usually focuses on the center.

"In the context of low involvement choice between frequently purchased products, when choosing between unfamiliar yet equivalent brands, the visual search process and consumer choice are biased toward centrally located options. Being unaware that our attention is focused on the center can lead to ," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Local education politics 'far from dead'

More information: A. Selin Atalay, H. Onur Bodur, and Dina Rasolofoarison. "Shining in the Center: Central Gaze Cascade Effect on Product Choice." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How does the order of choices affect consumer decisions?

Mar 15, 2012

Let's say you've got to book a flight, choose a hotel, and rent a car. Does it matter which thing you shop for first? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the order of choices does affect consumers' decisi ...

Is it best to withhold favorable information about products?

Oct 21, 2011

Consumers are more likely to choose products when marketers withhold some favorable information until late in the choice process, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. But marketers need to walk a fine line to dis ...

Too many choices can spoil the research

Jun 26, 2008

The more choices people get, the less consistent they are in making those choices, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The study's findings may affect the way researchers examine consumer choice ...

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

2 hours ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

2 hours ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

4 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

4 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 0