What You Decide to Buy Depends on How You Look at It, Literally

New research suggests that consumers make different purchasing decisions depending on whether they're looking up or down at a products on the shelves at a store.

What You Decide to Buy Depends on How You Look at It, Literally Photo (cc) by Walmart Corporate

Whether a product is displayed high or low on a store shelf affects how likely you are to put it into your cart while shopping.

According to a new report in the Journal of Consumer Research, people perceive items differently based on whether they’re looking up or down at them. The report explained that people are used to paying more detailed, focused attention when looking down (books, watches and computers). The opposite is true for looking up, when people take a broader, more generalized look at things. The report said:

Consumers choose more for feasible versus desirable products when looking down and vice versa when looking up. They also tend to be more preference-consistent when looking down versus up.

The researchers conducted three experiments, analyzing the effects of looking up versus looking down.

“In terms of how their findings can impact the marketing of retail products, the researchers believe that established brands with large market shares may benefit from shelf positions that require the consumer to look down a bit, as their study found subjects more often selected their most preferred brands when looking down,” Consumerist reports.

This study was unique in that it analyzed how high or low shelf placement affects shoppers.

There has been considerable research into the effectiveness of placing products at eye level. Hamacher Resource Group said:

Research has demonstrated that shoppers shop in the same manner in which they read — at eye level, horizontally from left to right. Accordingly, products placed at eye level sell at a faster rate than products on higher or lower shelves.

Does this study ring true for you?

Next time you’re at the store, pay attention to how you shop. Do you pay more detailed and focused attention when you’re looking down while shopping, compared with looking up while shopping? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Krystal Steinmetz
Krystal Steinmetz
A former television and radio reporter, I stay at home with my two young children, run a small craft business and freelance for Money Talks News. I have a BA in journalism ... More

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