Featured image: 12 European beer bottles featuring in the study

Do Shoppers Pay More Attention to Brands With More Shelf Space?

The latest eye-tracking research from PubLAB™ suggests that in the premium bottled beer category bottle distinctiveness is 3 times more effective at generating attention than doubling the shelf space.

Our Methodology

Respondents chose beer in an on-shelf mock-up whilst their eye movements were recorded. To minimise “brand effects” 12 European beers likely to have low levels of brand awareness in the UK were used in the study. Figure 1 shows the digital version of the shelf mock-up. Augustiner Bräu Edelstoff bottle had two facings and the rest had one facing each.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Beer bottles used in the study. The top shelf slightly below eye-level at 4ft 6in (h) with shelf width of 1ft 6in (w)

Our Results

The visual attention heatmap shown in Figure 2 is generated from eye-tracking data and represents the cumulative time respondents looked at each beer bottle.

Heatmap based on aggregated eye-tracking
Figure 2: The heatmap based on aggregated duration of fixations on each beer bottle

The brands generating the most visual attention are detailed below.

Beer Facings Total Attention (sec) Total Attention (%) Attention Uplift
Augustiner Bräu Edelstoff 2 45.61 20.19% 21.12%
Tegernseer Spezial 1 33.22 14.70% 76.43%


Doubling the shelf facings creates an attention uplift of 21% (over and above the average attention for each bottle). The single most visually salient bottle, however, accounts for almost 15% of total attention with an attention uplift of almost 76%.

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 at retail maybe more important in driving sales than simply doubling the shelf facings.

Key Finding

Basic perceptual features in packaging design direct visual attention to information relevant to the choice task.*

Actionable Insights

Test the visual saliency of existing packaging. Test new packaging designs before committing to them.

You can learn more about the actionable insights from visual marketing research at the visual marketing seminar in London on May 19.


*This is an exploratory study designed to guide future work. The distribution of visual attention is affected by the scene itself which limits the ability to generalise results to a completely different setting.

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