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Leveraging Variety, Perception Of Assortment

March 4, 2014
by Candy & Snack TODAY

Miami — For large assortment varieties, sets need to be organized to avoid overwhelming shoppers, while similar tactics can be used to boost the perception of selections for sets with a limited assortment, according to Dr. Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School's Jay H. Baker Retailer Center.

While large assortments can seem complex to consumers, if merchandised to prevent overwhelming shoppers more variety can attract consumers and increase share and consumption, Kahn says.

She explains that consumers' expectations increases when presented with a large assortment as they perceive the variety as an opportunity to find the “perfect” product for them. “Embrace variety, but make it more accessible. Give the shopper a reason to choose, whether it be through branding or reducing complexity,” Kahn adds.

The use of both visual and verbal signage are one key to simplifying sets, she says, explaining research indicates that when words are used with large assortments people take more time and look at items in a more systematic way, and more items are viewed.

Regardless of the size of assortment, people always think it's a larger variety when it is depicted visually, Kahn reports, however, when just relying on visuals consumers view products in a more erratic pattern and often miss items.

To help a smaller assortment seem to have more variety, she says items should be aligned horizontally with effective and creative labeling, adding signage highlight “fun” can also make assortments seem larger.  

Caption: Dr. Barbara Kahn, of The Wharton School, explained to the State of the Industry crowd how to make a small assortment larger and a larger assortment less complex. 

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