Here's something to consider when you're advertising or marketing your product: 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 visual attention reveals that consumers do not accurately recall their choice process," wrote authors A. Selin Atalay (HEC Paris), H. Onur Bodur (Concordia University) and Dina Rasolofoarison (Aston Business School). "Our findings emphasize the relationship between horizontal location, attention and choice."
Using eye-tracking devices, the authors investigated how location influences choices for products as varied as vitamins, meal replacement bars and energy drinks. 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," the authors wrote. "Being unaware that our attention is focused on the center can lead to poor choices."
How can you imagine this information being used in the meeting and event industry?
(Image via Flickr: Michael Ashbridge / Creative Commons)
(Story materials from the University of Chicago Press.)