This is how retailers make you buy more stuff

Are you a fan of grocery shopping? It seems that some people want to get in and out of the store as fast as possible, while others take an hour to compare every jar of mayonnaise and cause congestion. Both types of behaviour usually don't lead to a lot of purchasing, but there's some good news for retailers: there's a way to influence customers' walking speed to optimise their buying behavior.

Walking speed plays an important role in shopping descisions, but how can you influence this? The answer is simple: floor markers. Research by Bram Van den Bergh, Associate Professor at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at Erasmus University Rotterdam demonstrates how this works.

‘People tend to walk faster when they see fewer barriers (in this case fewer lines on the floor) between themselves and their final goal,' he explains. 'This is called the "goal gradient effect."'

In Van den Bergh's study, lines were pasted on the floor across the aisles of a supermarket. In the first experiment, they lines were painted close together, creating the illusion that the aisle was longer than it actually was. The result? People walked slower.

In the second expriment, the lines were placed further apart. Customers perceived the aisle to be shorter than it actually was, and sped up.

These findings can also be applied at railway stations or airports, to encourage passengers to walk faster and catch their train or flight. In swimming pools on the other hand, it might help to slow down visitors on the slippery surface.

Watch the video at RSM.


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