10 Principles for a Successful
Retail Shelf Planogram in 2020

Planograms do more than help brands standardize the placement of product on retail shelves across multiple outlets. They are meticulously researched, scientific instructions for maximizing sales of specific items. They are truly insights in action.

When building a planogram, marketers and shopper insight researchers need to keep in mind a variety of customer mindsets such as these four types of shoppers.

  • Grab ‘n Go: These customers want to find things quickly. They need a smaller assortment of items and more of the targeted product facing them.
  • Discovery: These customers have more time to shop but they still want to be efficient. They need a greater variety of items and more niche products.
  • Considered: Considered customers also have more time to shop and want to be efficient. However, they need a smaller assortment to avoid shopper frustration. A longer shop can be a bad thing.
  • Impulse: Lastly, impulse customers want to find things quickly. They need a smaller assortment of key, landmark products.

While everyone wants their shopping experience to be easy and effective, each mindset requires a different planogram. You can’t design for every mindset in one planogram but you can consider which mindsets might be more or less relevant to your category. Once that has been determined, then you can consider ten key principles to design the perfect planogram.  

Choose Eye Level.  Eye tracking research consistently demonstrates that shelves at eye level tend to receive the most attention. Taking into account that the average man is about 1.75 meters (5’ 9”) and the average woman is about 1.63 meters (5’ 4”), this usually translates into placing products on shelves 2 through 4. In fact, shelves 2 and 3 receive up to 44% of total views. In addition to being physically problematic for some people to reach, lower shelves suffer from poor lighting, recessed packaging, and visual blocks thus reducing the attention paid to them.

Landmark Products. Popular landmark products should be spread throughout your space. Because shoppers tend to gaze in a tight Z pattern starting with the landmark products, this strategy will nudge shoppers to gaze at more of your products.

Lean Right: Take advantage of the human subconscious navigational tendency to look and go right. Place innovative or key strategic products to the right of landmark products.

Category Drivers: Arrange key category drivers in the center of the space so that products needing high visibility can take advantage of the Z-gaze.

Create Vertical Blocking: Where appropriate, place products vertically on several shelves rather than horizontally across one shelf. Because vertical blocking is generally preferred to horizontal blocking, you can use the block to draw attention to a greater number of smaller line extensions or innovations. In other words, a three-shelf vertical block can be used to highlight three additional items.

Create Gaze Plots: When appropriate, position landmark products to create a blocking strategy that will influence the gaze towards specific, less known or new products.

Adjacencies. Consider product adjacencies. Some products can have a distinctly positive or negative impact on the performance of specific items and even the entire shelf.

Layout Chunking: Where shelving layouts deviate from straight lines with clear paths, consider how the area is chunked. Which displays and setups will consumers chunk together and which chunks will they pay more or less attention to?

Sign Chunking: Consider how signage may impact how shoppers chunk the shelf. Some placements may chunk sections in less advantageous ways and create barriers that automatically deselect products.

Focus: A more focused assortment of products can often be better both financially and behaviorally. Products are easier for customers to find thereby increasing purchase rates.

These scientific principles are by no means all encompassing. However, by understanding some of the science, you will have the confidence to know that your shopper needs are more likely to be satisfied and that the shelf space is being optimized for business results. If you’d like to ensure your planogram is working as hard as possible to increase sales, please email us or use the contact options here.

Dive into our Learning Library to find out more about planogram research. Or, learn from our other blog posts:

·         What to Do If Your Pack Is On The Bottom Shelf

·         Increase Your ROI on Planograms

·         Virtual Reality meets Eye Tracking: A Game Changer

·         How to Optimize Signage Placement


Mike Moussallem is a partner at Explorer Research and leads the Canadian arm of the business. Moussallem has more than 15 years of experience in quantitative and qualitative research, shopper marketing, and category management. He has held positions at TNS, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Nielsen. Prior to joining Explorer, he led the Retail and Shopper Insights practice and team for TNS in Canada. Before TNS, Moussallem also led the Shopper Insights team for Kraft Canada, spanning across all sectors and customers.

Explorer Research applies behavioral science to research methods, with an emphasis on in-situation testing to help clients uncover insights related to packaging, advertising, media, customer experience, and user experience. Using an array of conscious and nonconscious research measures, including eye-tracking, facial coding, EEGs, GSR, VR, and more, Explorer Research helps their clients understand, predict and influence consumer behavior. Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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