PubLAB study identifies ‘hot spot’ in the chiller

Published: 1 July 2016 at 08:47

A well-stocked pub bar

Bottled beers are a growth market but where is prime position behind the bar?

New research shows that the top shelf isn’t top when it comes to maximising sales from a pub’s chiller cabinet.

In recent years premium beer sold in bottles and cans has been driving growth in “on trade” sales, leading to intense competition for space in the pub chiller cabinet.

Previous advice from the industry to pub owners has suggested that the top shelf (as close to eye-level as possible) is the place to maximise sales.  However, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University’s PubLAB™ have found that attention and choice is unevenly distributed across the shelves of the chiller cabinet, and the top shelf doesn’t come out on top.

Eye-tracking glasses were used to record the eye movements of participants while they chose bottled beer.  And by aggregating this data, the researchers have been able to identify the visual “hot spots” in the chiller.

The PubLAB™ researchers found that:

  • Drinkers look at the second from top shelf first and look at it for longer
  • The second and third shelves account for 55% of visual attention
  • Time to first “fixation” for the second shelf is 1.75 seconds compared to 6.03 seconds for the bottom shelf
  • Bottles that command the most visual attention are chosen the most often

Tim Froggett, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“There’s been very little research into the ‘shelf liveliness’ of bottle brands in the on trade.  Our research shows that visual attention is highly focused on limited areas of the chiller display. 

“Brands on the second shelf down are almost twice as likely to be seen as brands on the bottom shelf, and are three times as likely to be chosen.  This is important for brand owners and publicans who want to optimise the performance of certain products.”