When Customers Browse Store Shelves, Perception Is Reality


Whether it’s a gift for the holidays or a present to yourself, every purchase is the result of myriad choices on the part of the shopper — what color, which size, how big or how fast. While these are often conscious decisions, there are also numerous external factors at play every time you visit the mall or log on to Amazon. In a recent paper, Wharton marketing professor Barbara Kahn examines the impact of one of those potential influencers: Display design and how it affects our perceptions of variety.

The research, “A ‘Wide’ Variety: Effects of Horizontal Versus Vertical Display on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety and Choice,” was co-authored with Ohio State University professor Xiaoyan Deng, University of California, Davis professor H. Rao Unnava and Hyojin Lee, a professor at San Jose State University.

Watch the video and check out the graphic below to learn more about how the effect works.

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