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Why Not Top Ten Cheeses?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Most aisles in the supermarket are sorted by brand (pasta in columns), size (jugs of vinegar on the bottom), or price (“top shelf”wine). Usually there’s only one shelf in the entire store that’s sorted by product popularity: books (like this shelf at King Soopers in Denver).

Research by Duncan Watts,Robert Cialdini, and many others shows that humans instinctively look to what others do to help guide their choices. If it’s the top-selling shampoo, that’s“social proof”that it must be the best shampoo.

In fact, nowadays, everyone is used to being able to “sort by popularity” or rating or price—online. But there’s only one retailer that’s taken this social proof concept to heart: ranKing ranQueen in Tokyo.

They carry only the top five or ten most popular items in a given category: CDs, books, noodles, cell phones, green tea, pasta sauce, bath soap, mascara.

Why don’t more brick-and-mortar stores adopt this habit? If stores must carry a wide selection (have you seen the hot-sauce shelf lately?), at least they could feature the top three or five products.It would guide shopper decisions, relieve choice anxiety, and drive sales.

ranKing ranQeen Picture Source: New Gabriel Times

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