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Middle Ground Is High Ground for Product Placement

product placement . / Credit: Store Shelf Image via Shutterstock

Being stuck in the middle may not be such a bad thing after all, at least if you are selling a product.  New research has found that consumers are commonly drawn to products that are placed in the middle of a horizontal line of similar products. 

"Consumers are more likely to purchase products placed in the middle of a display — without even being aware of it," said Onur Bodur, lead researcher and associate professor at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in Montreal.

Consumers are not aware of this because they are doing it subconsciously. Using visual eye-tracking devices, the researchers found that consumers would increase their focus on the middle options in a particular display. In particular, the tracking devices found that consumers focused on middle products in the last few seconds of a decision-making process, which was the time where most consumers made their purchase decisions

The researchers believe these findings have the potential to help consumers make the best decisions about which products to purchase.

"By using this newfound knowledge that visual attention is naturally drawn to the center of a display, consumers can consciously train themselves to make a more thorough visual scan of what's on offer," Bodur said.  

In turn, that will allow consumers to see all choices before settling on products in the middle of a display and making an impulse purchase.  The research also can prove valuable for retailers who now know what space on store shelves may be most valuable. 

Bodur is the co-author of a recent study in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Consumer Research.  The research was co-authored by marketing researchers at HEC in France and the Aston Business School in England.

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