Featured image: 12 European beer bottles featuring in the study

Why ‘Shelf Liveliness’ Trumps Shelf Space – Study

New eye-tracking research by PubLAB™ shows value of distinctive beer bottles.

The latest eye-tracking research from Anglia Ruskin University’s pubLAB™ suggests that increasing shelf space is not the most effective way of attracting the attention of shoppers.

The new study, which was carried out using 12 European beers with low levels of brand awareness in the UK to minimise “brand effects”, found that bottle distinctiveness is three times more effective at generating attention than doubling the shelf space.

Figure 1
Figure 1

This latest study into the ‘shelf liveliness’ of beer will be discussed at the world’s first on-trade visual marketing seminar in London on 19 May, which is organised by pubLAB™ and sponsored by Anglia Ruskin’s Lord Ashcroft International Business School.

The new research involved participants choosing a bottle of beer in an on-shelf mock-up, while their eye movements were recorded.  By studying the eye-tracking data, heat maps were created showing the cumulative time respondents looked at each beer bottle.

Heatmap based on aggregated eye-tracking
Figure 2: Heatmap based on aggregated eye-tracking

Augustiner Bräu Edelstoff featured twice on the shelf and had an attention uplift (% above the average attention for each bottle) of 21%.  However, the most visually salient bottle was Tegernseer Spezial, which only featured once on the shelf but had an attention uplift of 76%.

Tim Froggett, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Anglia Ruskin, said: “An interesting question is what factors account for the visual attention uplift of Tegernseer Spezial?

“Attention may not be driven by what consumers actively choose to look at but rather by low-level perceptual components such as colour, contrast, intensity and brightness.

“In this case, the Tegernseer Spezial bottle presents an image of white in a sea of brown.  In addition, linguistic variables can affect how long the eyes remain fixated in one place and ‘spezial’ is one of few words in this scene that is relevant to the search task.

“Understanding the properties that generate visual attention is key for companies, as this could be more important in driving sales than increasing shelf facings.”

The pubLAB™ on-trade visual marketing seminar takes place in London on Thursday, 19 May.  Other speakers include Jane Peyton, Britain’s first Beer Sommelier of the Year and founder of the School of Booze, and Juha Karppinen, founder of beer app Pint Please.  More information about the visual marketing seminar is available here.

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