Polls / October 25, 2011

When grocery shopping, do you tend to pick items from the middle shelf?

About a third of respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll know they are attracted to grocery items on the middle shelf. But more than 40% haven’t thought about which shelf they tend to favour.

The middle ground
Middle shelves at grocery stores are easy for shoppers to see and to reach. Shoppers’ attraction to the spot is well known – and store designers are said to play to this by putting items they want to sell quickly in the middle spot.
Now it seems that even when shopping online, many people tend to prefer “the middle”. Experiments from the University of Chester in the United Kingdom found participants prefer items in the middle of a row, even when selecting from identical pairs of socks. It may pay to be wise to retailers’ strategic placement of goods both in-store and online.

But in comparison
The middle shelf preference might influence shoppers in other ways as well. If we look at the high price item on the middle shelf then spot a lower cost brand close by, the second item can seem relatively cheaper.
Restaurant menus or wine lists might employ similar tactics. A $69 hotdog is cited as a case of price anchoring by author William Poundstone on his Priceless blog. After all, compared with a $69 hotdog, other menu items look cheap.

ShoppingPricingAnchoringFraming

eZonomics team
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