Shopping in narrow lanes makes people seek varietyMay 13th, 2009 - 12:35 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, May 13 (ANI): While wandering in the narrow aisles of a supermarket, people have the tendency to look for variety in a bid to overcome the confined environment, according to a study.
Columbia University researcher Jonathan Levav and his colleague Rui (Juliet) Zhu from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, built on prior research on “psychological reactance”-behaviours consumers employ to attempt to regain their freedom in situations where they perceive it to be threatened.
“For example, when consumers’ freedom of choice is limited by stock-outs, they might exhibit reactance by evaluating the unavailable options as more appealing,” they said.
They added: “Extending this line of research, in this paper, we investigate an important yet overlooked factor that can also limit consumers’ freedom: physical confinement.”
The authors said that in Western cultures, choice is viewed as a way to exert control over one’s environment and thus, if confined, people tend to change their shopping habits.
For the study, the researchers designed a series of laboratory experiments to test the hypothesis that confining spaces leads to greater variety seeking.
In the first study, participants were made to shop for candy in a laboratory space modified to create both wide and narrow aisles.
And it was found that the participants in the narrow aisle chose a greater variety of candy bars than consumers in the wide aisle.
In a subsequent study, the authors found that the participants in narrow aisles were more likely to choose unfamiliar and unique brands.
In a real-world study, the researchers found that increased customer density led to more varied choices among supermarket customers.
“Our results suggest that in larger, less crowded stores, manufacturers should be less keen to deliver a wide variety of products in a category, and should instead focus on stocking a few of their better-known or dominant product offerings,” wrote the authors.
They added: “In contrast, manufacturers should prefer to deliver a greater variety to more crowded stores, as customers in those stores will be more likely to diversify their choices in a category.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)
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Tags: british columbia vancouver, candy bars, columbia university, dominant product, freedom of choice, juliet zhu, laboratory experiments, laboratory space, narrow aisle, narrow aisles, prior research, product offerings, psychological reactance, shopping habits, stock outs, study participants, university of british columbia, university of british columbia vancouver, university researcher, western cultures