Impact In-Store: Shopper Hot Zones

By Stephen Rust, Joint MD of the Visualise Group.


We commonly come across the same challenge with our clients in that they have successfully negotiated their brand or NPD getting listed, but now we need to ensure it sells! The two most common questions we get from our clients at this point are…

  1. Where should we present and communicate the products to get best noticeability by target shoppers?
  2. What should we communicate at these points in-store that will nudge shoppers to buy? (e.g. layout, claims, visuals, logos, colours, shapes, offers and/or retail staff prompts etc.)

Where we locate and what we communicate can mean the difference between a brand growing their sales or being delisted. There is a large graveyard of products that may have had fantastic usage experience, but unfortunately never got picked up by shoppers in-store or online.

Unless there is an unlikely scenario where ROI on marketing spend is not an important factor and retailers are willing to give complete control of their stores or e-commerce site, then understanding and considering how to utilise shopper hot zones is paramount to brand growth.


Importantly, whatever product we are selling and marketing, utilising where best to locate tends to be a fundamental key success factor. We regularly conduct campaign M&L (measure and learn) research for our clients where they need to understand the impact their activity is having with shoppers and how to optimise this impact. In one piece of research, where we were evaluating a regional food campaign in hypermarkets, one of the key learnings we found was shoppers were less aware of the products until they are in the relevant parts of the store.

In this case we had six different hypermarket stores with the same joint promotion of a range of regional food meal ingredients including steaks, premium butter and some condiments. This promotion ended up being located in different areas of the different stores, and what we found when we intercepted shoppers in these different parts of store, was that the level of awareness of the promotion was higher in the areas where shoppers would expect to find this product range versus when located in other areas of store, as outlined in the graph below.


Once we have got the products in the right location(s) around the store, we then need to understand where the hot zones are on the shelf, namely where shoppers most often look. While for many categories it is usually the eye to thigh level, this can change pending on the design of shelf (e.g. coffin units, tiered shelves etc). For instance, in one of the V360° eye tracking studies for a chilled category where there was a step fridge (i.e. the bottom shelf of the fridge stuck out about 25 cm from rest of the shelves), what we found was that there were 20% more eye visits and 10% more purchases from this step shelf versus a similar range and product layout in stores where there was no step shelf.

It is worth noting for brands and category teams when considering their hot zone strategy that it may not always be possible to get located at the hottest selling point on shelf or counter. This is where it is even more essential to consider the design of packaging and point of sale materials in terms of claim, visual, shape and colour to win shoppers attention. Take for example the category below…

When analysed through the lens of what would immediately draw shoppers eyes in the first three seconds at the fixture, we can see the branded white packaging on the second lowest shelf and the distinct yellow packs on the bottom shelf stood out to shoppers relatively well, whilst the darker packs on the top shelf got lower noticeability.


The other important factor to understand is shoppers’ sequence of viewing a category (i.e. their first fixation to final product selection). Every time we conduct V360° eye tracking research, we always look to identify if there is any common sequence that shoppers have when they observe a category. For instance, we noticed on one study that any shopper that approached the category from left to right, would always initially look (first fixation) at the top left of the fixture when approaching. This then became an opportune point for our client to succinctly communicate their brand assets of colour and icons that linked closely to the brand packaging, to ensure and remind shoppers of the brand just before they consider what to buy in the category.


The more we understand the shopper’s purchase journey, the more effective and efficient we can become at nudging them to buy. At V360°, we follow three simple principles to ensure we communicate effectively with shoppers at the moment of choice, whether that is in the physical or digital world:

STOP – See Me
ENGAGE – Notice Me
LAND – Buy Me

We will share more of the insights and learnings we gain from our work in future blog posts, but in the meantime to find out more and discuss how we can help your business win at and up to the moment of choice do get in touch at