Path to Purchase – Which is more effective in-store, on shelf?

Shopper Psychology Applied

Are you losing sales and share because your brand isn’t as psychologically effective in-store as those of the competition? Is the in-store performance of your brand suffering because it isn’t aligned with the minds of shoppers? Would you like to simply and effectively increase sales, grow your category and enrich trading relationships?

Access 30 years of analysing shopper psychology and shopping behaviour, enhanced with key learnings from leading psychologists from around the globe. Tap into quite simply the most comprehensive database of shopper insights available. You can now access this priceless shopper understanding in the form of shopper based retail effectiveness audits. Here’s a summary example

Ariel vs. Persil

The 2 leading brands of washing detergent were compared and analysed across 11 different metrics. From their ability to gain mental attention on shelf, through pack design and category layout, to the communication of price. In summary, how well does each of the 2 leading brands align with the psychological drivers and motivations of real shoppers.

“The overall headline finding was that Ariel scored higher that Persil in almost every aspect! But neither scored well”

So let’s look at the findings in a little more detail.


Firstly we analysed attention: How effectively do Persil and Ariel emotionally and instinctively grab the attention of passing shoppers. Because both brands rely very much on rational aspects to persuade shoppers to choose one over the other, they fail to emotionally connect as well as they could. And although Persil has a degree of humanisation on pack, the imagery is hidden behind the SRP. How would your brand perform?


Secondly, we turned our focus to how well each of the research brands initially appeals to shoppers in-store. Because many visual aspects of each brand are so similar, the appeal scores were low (Ariel 29%, Persil 25%). Psychology suggests that there is an opportunity for either brand to convey uniqueness in what is a somewhat crowded marketplace. Does your brand appeal as much as it could on shelf?


Next, engagement: How psychologically engaging is each brand as it sits there in-store on shelf. With this metric, Ariel (47%) was significantly more engaging that Persil (27%). Neither product appears to ‘own’ any non-comparable attribute with which shoppers could benchmark other alternatives against. Also, the layout on shelf combined with the pack designs gives Ariel significant visual advantage. Ever wondered how engaging your brand is in-store?

Range & Layout

Moving our attention to the range available and the layout, the scores were almost identical. With so much visual ‘sameness’ between the research brands, neither offers any category default option. But if they did so, purchase decisions would become easier.

Why spend time choosing an option? One has already been chosen for you.”

Purchase conversion

Next is the browse to purchase conversion ability of each brand. The scores here were Ariel 29%, Persil 25%. Neither brand provides a specific tangible reason why it is better than the other. Here’s the science: Any product specialising in one attribute is perceived to be superior on that attribute relative to any all-in-one options. Do you know the conversion rate for your brand?


On-pack imagery: Ariel scored 0% and Persil 40%. From a psychological perspective, these packs need more humanisation. Educate and inspire using images: Concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily and frequently recalled than are concepts that are learned by viewing their written word from counterparts. Is your on-pack imagery as good as it could be?


What about the pack colours: Ariel 71%, Persil 78%. In a category where colour is talked about so much, both brands ranked well – Albeit very similar to each other. Shopper attention is naturally drawn toward stimuli that are visually salient. And whenever a concept enters our mind quickly and easily, it produces a pleasant sensation in our brain. We then falsely attribute that pleasantness with our evaluation of the stimulus. What’s the best colour for your brand in-store?


On pack copy: How well do the words on each of the brands communicate with shoppers: Ariel 54%, Persil 43%. Both brands rely on their name on shelf. The packs lack a distinct call to action in terms of ‘buy me’ or ‘switch to me. In addition, by increasing the surface size of text, especially emotional words (if there were any), they could enhance the emotional impact of those words. What does your pack say about your brand?


We then went on to analyse the psychological effectiveness of the fonts used on pack: Ariel 50%, Persil 45%. The fonts used are clear and easily legible; sending out a message of function over feelings. Psychologically, there is an opportunity to introduce more creative fonts. Because, when people exert greater effort to process information, they encode the memory in greater detail. So not only would obscure fonts enhance the perceived uniqueness of a product, but they’d also create a stronger memory of that brand. Which brand in your category has the most effective font?


Specifically looking at how the prices were communicated Ariel scored 37% and Persil 23%. It is well-known that from a psychological perspective, the way most supermarkets display prices is frankly, poor! For example, £ sign too big, price numeral too (physically) big, lack of left digit bias and no charm pricing. What does the Shelf Edge Label (SEL) say about your brand?


What about the non-price related numbers used on each of the packs: Ariel 50%, Persil 41%. Ariel anchors shoppers to the number 1 on a 60 wash bottle, while Persil makes 60 seem small and insignificant by locating it on the bottom left of the bottle. In summary, both could easily be made more appealing just by changing the way numbers are displayed on pack. Can you count on the effectiveness of any numbers on the packs of your brand?

These retail effectiveness audits, are designed to help brands like yours increase sales, grow categories and enrich trading relationships. The recommendations have been disseminated from a database of 791 psychological insights specifically relating to shoppers and shopping.

Access to this database of priceless shopper understanding is now available to you in the form of shopper based retail effectiveness audits. If you would like to know how your brand compares to the competition, follow this link, or let’s talk.

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Alternatively, are you just fascinated by how shoppers think? Or would you like to know more about how you think? Check out my books on Amazon for much more insightful, provocative and stimulating information.

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