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Display signs and involvement: the visual path to purchase intention

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Retailers, merchandisers and suppliers go to great lengths to display merchandise so that it captures the eye of the customer. Attention requires eye movement. Our eyes move (saccade) and pause (fixate) to direct attention. Cognitive processing of visual items requires the eyes to attend to an object. Eye movement can measure attention, and attention increases mental processing of an object (e.g. word, image, object, and product). Both the characteristics of the person (top-down factors) and the stimulus (bottom-up factors) contribute to attention and influence the meaning derived from the stimulus. For the current study, we integrated involvement theory and the elaboration likelihood model with eye-tracking technology to evaluate customer attention to merchandise displays and their likelihood to buy (purchase intention). We recruited 344 subjects in six North American locations to view images of 32 live plant displays. Visual data were collected using a Tobii X1 Light eye-tracking device. To date, few investigations using eye tracking have been conducted on merchandised displays. Our hypothesis was that the more highly involved customers would view the merchandise (live plants) longer than required for identification, information or price signs. Results show differential 3-D patterns of involvement, likelihood to buy, and total visit duration. Involvement moderated the relationship between the time spent looking at the merchandise and their likelihood to buy.

Keywords: eye-tracking technology; horticulture; merchandise displays; method; retail customers

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA 2: Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA 3: Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Elgar Road, Burwood,Victoria, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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