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Shelf space schemas: Myth or reality?


  • Valenzuela, Ana
  • Raghubir, Priya
  • Mitakakis, Chrissy


A series of studies identifies that consumers hold beliefs about how retailers organize product displays in stores. These beliefs do not reflect reality, but consumers pervasively use them even when discredited. Study 1 finds that consumers believe popular products are placed on middle shelves, expensive products on top shelves and promoted products on the extremes of a display. However, a field study encompassing two different geographical areas, eight stores and four product categories shows that retailer layouts contradict consumers' beliefs about middle and horizontal positions, but they follow consumers' intuitions about verticality, albeit, inconsistently. Based on these findings about the mismatch between consumers' beliefs and retailers' actual assortments, a laboratory experiment examines whether position effects are robust. The study finds that position effects are only partially attenuated when consumers are explicitly informed that store layouts are not informative. A discussion of implications for retailers and product managers follows.

Suggested Citation

  • Valenzuela, Ana & Raghubir, Priya & Mitakakis, Chrissy, 2013. "Shelf space schemas: Myth or reality?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 881-888.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:66:y:2013:i:7:p:881-888
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.12.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, Evan E, 1979. "An Analysis of Retail Display Space: Theory and Methods," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(1), pages 103-118, January.
    2. Inman, J Jeffrey & McAlister, Leigh & Hoyer, Wayne D, 1990. " Promotion Signal: Proxy for a Price Cut?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 74-81, June.
    3. Meyers-Levy, Joan & Tybout, Alice M, 1989. " Schema Congruity as a Basis for Product Evaluation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 39-54, June.
    4. Raghubir, Priya & Valenzuela, Ana, 2006. "Center-of-inattention: Position biases in decision-making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 66-80, January.
    5. Marcel Corstjens & Peter Doyle, 1981. "A Model for Optimizing Retail Space Allocations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(7), pages 822-833, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jbrese:v:82:y:2018:i:c:p:149-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zhao, Ju & Zhou, Yong-Wu & Wahab, M.I.M., 2016. "Joint optimization models for shelf display and inventory control considering the impact of spatial relationship on demand," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 255(3), pages 797-808.
    3. Danny Campbell & Seda Erdem, 2015. "Position Bias in Best-worst Scaling Surveys: A Case Study on Trust in Institutions," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 97(2), pages 526-545.
    4. Tong V. Wang & Rogier J. D. Potter van Loon & Martijn J. van den Assem & Dennie van Dolder, 2016. "Number preferences in lotteries," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 11(3), pages 243-259, May.


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