How Retail Store Displays Can Influence Consumers’ Buying Decisions

Imagine that you’re in a retail outlet to buy some cups. Would you be more inclined to believe that the cups are trendy if the display holding them is flashy as opposed to ordinary? Research suggests that this is likely to be the case.

University of Minnesota researcher Joan Meyers-Levy and co-author Rui (Juliet) Zhu, a professor at the University of British Columbia, performed experiments to see how display fixtures affect consumers’ perceptions about the products they promote.

Discovering How Customers Respond to Presentation

Meyers-Levy determined that retailers can’t directly control consumer perceptions of products, but they can influence their decision to purchase a specific brand. She found in her research that simply using posters that encouraged inter-dependent or independent self-views could positively influence the consumer’s view of the product.

Shoppers who are aware of branding and promotion tools that enhance the product’s presentation are likely to make a more informed decision as opposed to leaving stores with the wrong product.


Meyers-Levy provided a specific example to illustrate this: If you’re in an office all day, working with a team on a particular project, this puts you in an inter-dependent state of mind, with an eye on the “bigger picture” where things are more interconnected. In this mindset, consumers are likely to connect retail product displays with the products they hold.

For instance, if a consumer sees a store display with a certain theme, such as nature, the inter-dependent thinker will more likely associate the products with that theme.

On the other hand, those working against others, say competing with coworkers for a promotion or other type of recognition, are likely to be more independent in their thinking. This independence might influence them to perceive products as opposite counterparts to their display.

If brands are aware of the inter-dependent or independent thinker’s mindset and cater to certain demographics based on their preferences, product displays can help boost sales significantly.

Balance Product Packaging and Promotion

One of the most important aspects of a product is its packaging, as most businesses are aware. However, it’s not the only thing that needs to be visually appealing. Product displays are every bit as important as the products they hold, and should aim to attract either the inter-dependent or independent consumer.

With these in mind, businesses are much more likely to facilitate satisfied customers at the end of the day.