Impact of Visual Perception and Attention on Consumers’ Processing of Information, Evaluation and Purchases

Principal Investigator
Biance Grohmann, Marketing

Onur Badur, Marketing
Aaron Johnson, Psychology
Walter Wittich, School of Optometry, Université de Montréal

Project Description

This research program focuses on the influence of visual perception and attention on consumers’ information processing, judgment, and choice. It examines visual perception and attention biases as well as strategies (e.g., package design and product presentation) to overcome such biases in order to enhance consumers’ decision quality and search efficiency. This research program responds to recent market developments, imminent changes in the population age distribution, and demands for greater social responsibility. First, marketers increasingly use package downsizing instead of price increases. The use of visual cues in product redesign (e.g., package shape) can lead to the erroneous perception that product volume is unchanged, and therefore mask unit price increases. Second, Canada is seeing an increase in numbers within vulnerable segments of the population: The elderly and visually impaired are particularly prone to errors in judgment due to physical and cognitive limitations. In the context of an aging population, visual biases affecting vulnerable segments need to be better understood, so that effective strategies to enhance consumer welfare (e.g., financial, health) can be developed. Third, organizations (including marketers and retailers) are now held to higher standards of social responsibility. Therefore, an understanding of biases induced by visual cues, and the development of strategies to overcome such biases can results in socially responsible managerial practices. The research program consists of four research axes that build on the complementary expertise of the team members: (1) Biases in volume judgment and product choice arising from product design and presentation (e.g. colors, shapes); (2) the interactive effects of visual presentation and consumption goals on consumers’ processing of visual cues and product inferences; (3) factors underlying visual attention in complex environments (e.g., retail shelves or stores); and (4) the effect of visual design and presentation factors on biases arising among vulnerable populations (e.g., the elderly, individuals with visual impairment).

This project is supported by a generous grant from the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture, soutien aux équipes de recherche for the period 2016-2020