Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of a variety bundle's product display order on consumer preferences. When forming a variety bundle, manufacturers, retailers and advertisers need to decide on the order in which their products are displayed. The authors provide empirical evidence that this apparently trivial display decision can systematically affect consumer preferences. Design/methodology/approach: Four experiments were performed with over a total of 1,000 participants. Logistic regressions were conducted on the collected data sets to provide support for the hypothesis and its underlying psychological mechanism. Findings: Results showed that product attitudes systematically affect choices among variety bundles that differ only in the order in which their products are displayed. When choosing among flat and horizontal variety bundles, Western consumers preferred the one that had the product they like the most to the left. This phenomenon was observed in different product categories, among left-to-right readers from different Western countries and languages, and with both hypothetical and consequential decisions. The incremental weight given to the first piece of information (i.e. “first” product in the bundle) explains this product order effect. Originality/value: Although a significant amount of research has been conducted to understand the factors that affect consumer preferences for product bundles, little attention has been devoted to the role of visual aesthetics. The research addresses this gap, and in so doing contributes both to the marketing and to the visual aesthetics literature. One simple yet key implication of the product order effect documented here is that the value consumers assign to a variety bundle depends on the order in which its products are displayed.
- Product attitude
- Visual aesthetics