Sunday, October 11, 2009

Doing More with Less

A lesson for my friends in retail from Marketing

Wow, They Go on Forever!

Last week, we explored how merchants offering fewer product selections this holiday season may want to stress the quality of their selections to keep customers interested.

Now comes interesting new advice on how to present products visually to give a sense of volume to a given display.

Researchers used M&M candies to assess consumers' perceptions of volume. Two groups were shown a glass bowl partially filled with brown M&Ms. The bowl was then removed, and the participants were each asked to fill a new bowl with the same volume of M&Ms that they estimated were in the first bowl. One group was given brown M&Ms to pour, while another group was given multicolored M&Ms (red, green and blue) to pour.

The result? Amazingly, participants poured 12% more into the bowl when the candies they were pouring were multicolored. In other words, those subjects who were asked to estimate the volume of a variety of colored candies to match that of the brown candies consistently underestimated the volume of the multicolored grouping.

"[V]ariety caused people to pour more candy into [the] bowl. People did this because variety presumably made them perceive that they had put less in the bowl so far," the researchers reported.

"We propose that these effects occur," they continued, "because identical items naturally consolidate into a single whole, making the set seem to occupy a larger area. … [A] set of identical items appears to have a greater quantity," they concluded.

The message for marketers? When creating holiday displays with a lower product volume, it may be wise to group products of the same color together, or to repeat the same product in a grouping. Consumers may well perceive the display as having greater volume.

The Po!nt: Be redundant! Consider arranging limited offerings in groups of the same repeated product or color. It may add a sense of abundance to your holiday display.

Source: "The Presence of Variety Reduces Perceived Quantity," by Joseph P. Redden and Stephen J. Hoch. Journal of Consumer Research, 2009.

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