Point News Room – How Consumers React to Visual Marketing


On average, retail outlets contain about 30,000 SKU’s that are supported by nearly 10,000 pieces of marketing material. So, with all this stimulus vying for the shopper’s attention, where do marketer’s start? How can marketers effectively utilise visual merchandising to influence shopper decisions, and to better understand the overall consumer behaviour? We have some answers for you.

Shopper Decisions are Emotional

Incredibly, it’s considered that 95% of the shopper decision-making process is subconscious, leaving only 5% to the conscious brain.

The ideology that shoppers can confidently tell us why they make purchase decisions is wrong! Recent research has shown that shoppers can only rationalise their purchase decisions.

That’s because shopper decisions are triggered by emotion - not reasoning and logic.

So how can Marketers manage emotion? First by understanding the effectiveness of their behaviour directly linked to the brands’ in-store stimuli. The best way to tackle this challenge is by understanding the Consumer Attention Timeline which spans over 8 seconds and consists of 3 stages.

Icon of an eye

Getting Noticed

Side profile head icon

Pre-Attentive Processing

Brain with lightbulb

Post-Attentive Processing

Consumer Attention Timeline

Icon of an eye

Getting Noticed
takes place between 0-1sec of the shopper being in the vicinity of the object. The main triggers are Sensory Cues including colours, movement, and contrast. These cues are noticed in the peripheral vision of the shopper as they walk past the display – the same primal vision used to detect danger.

Side profile head icon

Pre-Attentive Processing
happens between 1-5secs. At this point, the brain of the shopper is still processing what they are looking at and it uses five triggers to determine if they should move onto the next object in their vicinity. These triggers are faces, edges, red/green contrast, blue/yellow contrast, and intensity.

Brain with lightbulb

Post-Attentive Processing
the final stage takes place between 5-8secs. Once the Post-Attentive Processing stage begins, the consumer uses personal triggers to decide if they are going to interact with the object or display. This includes the display’s context like intent, gender, culture, association with the object, historical background, etc. If successful, then the consumer engages and makes a purchase decision.

So, what can marketers take away from this? A shopper’s reaction to visual stimulus is generic for the first 5 seconds as it is a hardwired human reaction. This leaves opportunity for marketers to leverage these reactions and triggers to gain notice in store above the rest. Only then, will the consumer engage with the product.

TIP: Key visual use and placement onto POSM need to undergo the stages’ trigger checklist, then must be tried and tested. Specialist software exists which can be used to tweak artwork, POS, and planograms to encourage this behaviour.

The understanding of consumer behaviour can be evaluated across a multitude of knowledge areas: psychological, cultural, social, psychological, physio-psychological, etc.

Research on emotions within marketing has evolved three approaches:

Research on emotions within marketing has evolved three approaches:

The Categories Approach groups emotions around exemplars & considers different effects on consumption-related behaviour

The Dimensions Approach focuses on the various factors that affect consumer behaviour

The Cognitive Appraisals approach focuses on post-purchase frameworks

In-store marketing and visual merchandising are enhanced by integrating sensory communication and data-collecting technologies for the better understanding of consumer behaviour. This means major improvements to store and brand performance. A well-planned visual merchandising presenta- tion, like promotional techniques and on-shelf positioning, has a positive impact on consumer im- pulse buying behaviour..

The role of visual merchandising elements

Exterior Signs
Gain consumer awareness & announce store identity

Attract customers from visual appeal

Window Display
Get attention, create interest and are inviting.

Are one of the first elements consumers respond to in the shopper decision-making process.

Space & Layout
Forms a balance between in-store navigation and influencing shopper decisions by creating an effective visual merchandising presentation.

Focal Point
Showcase the product. The arrangement of the display should complement the product.


For more information on innovative POSM solutions email us info@pointgroup.biz.

Point Forward is a thought leadership article intended to spark conversation and explore new ideas, technologies and trends in the world of marketing collateral. At Point, we actively encourage collaboration, problem-solving and reimagination because innovation is ingrained in our culture and mindset. There is always a better way to approach design, business, technology, and everything in-between, and Point is committed to finding it within ourselves, partners, suppliers and clients.