No. 17 of 36 Distinction Bias

In a store full of stuff, shoppers are going to be in comparison mode. This makes it harder for them to choose and more likely for them not to buy.

Distinction bias, is the tendency to view two options as more different when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.

For example, when asked if someone would like an apple, they may say "Yes". So, an apple is placed before them and they begin to eat it and are happy. But what if two apples were placed on the table, one was the one they would have happily eaten and the other which is slightly fresher looking. The individual will choose the fresher apple and eat it and be happy but if asked, "would you have enjoyed eating that other apple", they would likely say "No". Even though in the alternate, no-choice reality they were perfectly happy with the apple.

In-store, shoppers are often in comparison mode, evaluating products side by side, hypersensitive to the smallest differences. But at home, there was just one item is present and no alternatives to compare against. It looks glorious in its singularity.

  1. Solus display - To make shopping easier and more efficient, try to deter shoppers form browsing in comparison mode. Otherwise they end up spending too much time playing “spot the difference.”
  2. Split similar products – If you are in a category with many similar products (flat screen TVs for example), try to get some space between you and all the rest.
  3. Play to your strengths – If your brand is superior in a particular aspect, develop ways to have shoppers focus on that aspect of every brand in the category.

In a store full of stuff, shoppers are going to be in comparison mode. This makes it harder for them to choose and more likely for them not to buy. Help shoppers by giving them guidance regarding what to compare. And please, please, Please, think outside just price.

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

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