What’s the science behind where people’s eyes are drawn to when they look at something for the first time?
It is one of those questions whose answer every retailer and merchandising manager seeks. When developing strategies on how to compel customers to purchase things they didn’t initially plan to invest in calls for some in-depth research, surveys, and time-consuming data collection. When a customer enters a shop, his/her path of purchase is an area, if taken care of, can reap profits for your brand. It all comes down to grasping a shopper’s attention by tracking the movement of his/her eyes; what things they see first, which way they take when faced with multiple aisles looking back at them, and how do they decide what to buy and what not to are areas where all marketers need to dig their head into.
When an effective merchandising effort is the prime concern, every retailer wishes to make the most of the path that leads up to the product the customer initially came looking for. Starting with the floor plan, every retail store has areas and corners that draw a higher amount of traffic. A successful attempt at identifying such corners that a customer’s eyes first sees can greatly impact stock turnover by helping a lesser known product get sold. The attractive stock will itself find its buyers, even if it is buried in the least attractive corner of the store, giving the retailer little to worry about.
Introducing Visual Hotspots
In marketing, we define such corners as visual hotspots, corners that grasp a customer’s attention instantly as they start walking through the store. These are points that offer the best exposure possible for a product as they unintentionally catch the eye. They get the highest traffic and can usually be found adjacent to the entrances and exits. Since displays in such areas become easily visible, they trigger impulsive buying behaviour in customers. These can also occur throughout a store on some of the most frequently travelled routes customers take in your store.
The Science behind It:
Why do visual hotspots in the store actually work? It’s because humans, like animals, move in predictable patterns. In fact, a research study has shown that about 90% of all Americans, upon entering a store or shop for buying their desired product, explore in a counter-clockwise direction. Researchers believe that it is due to the fact that Americans drive on the right all their life. So, they perceive it as the right direction to go about it, and in the opposite direction for those who drive on the left. Therefore, in a store too, they follow the same direction as their minds believe that it is the right and the safest one to follow. Once customers start to move in predictable patterns, it gives managers an idea about which direction their eyes will go to first. Once they identify those visual hotspots, they place those items in those areas which are least likely to be sold. So, by the time the customer reaches the aisle where he/she intended to go to, they always have a cart full of things that they did not need.