Mktg – The science behind shelf placement
Sylvester da Cunha
The location of a product in a shop can make a crucial difference to its sales. Manufacturers are no longer content merely to book an order with the
retailer. They train their salesmen to ensure that their product is on display with maximum visibility to the shopper.
‘Shelf facings’ are of critical importance in the U.S. where supermarkets offer self-service and the customer has to reach out for the product. A recent study in national supermarkets confirms that “the way products are shelved affects consumer purchasing behaviour.”
Traditionally, “eye-level shelving” is best, followed by “waist-level” , “knew-level” and ankle-level” . It is near impossible to locate all the items at eye-level and store experience have proved that consumer responses to shelf locations depend upon such other factors as the product package size, whether or not its being advertised, its need for visibility and intended market segment.
Studies have proved for instance that when a heavy 54 oz juice product was shifted from a non-visible lower shelf to a higher visible location the sales instead of increasing dropped by 15% because of the difficulty experienced in lifting such a heavy item.
Lower shelves hold definite merchandising opportunities for children. Chocolates showed an increase in the range of 14 to 39 per cent in their sales as they were clearly visible to the ‘junior’ target group.
In the middle range of shelving heights visibility variation becomes the major influence on product sales. When a jelly was relocated from waist-level to eye-level the shift added 12 percent to the product’s weekly sales. This was in spite of the fact that the resulting change in visibility was not dramatic.
At present, in India, shelf positioning seems in the main to be decided by the retailer. Products that move off the shelf faster appear to be displayed more prominently and given larger shelf facings. This puts at further disadvantage manufacturers of slow-moving products.
At present most manufacturers rely on friendly persuasion in getting better shelf location. Manufacturers seem to be vying for favourable shelf space. Would it not therefore be profitable for them to invest in outright rental of prime shelf space in much the same way as shop windows are leased?
Lakme and Max Factor have made good beginning in hiring shelves for their products which are then merchandised by their own sales girls.
The importance of correct shelf positioning asserted itself when Nutramul was first introduced. It was found that shopkeepers were storing the newcomer in shelves reserves for baby foods. Strenuous efforts by Amul to get their product transferred to the space reserved for beverages bore fruit and sales picked up with this move.
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