Arranging the assortment to arouse choice: Effects of goal-relevant assortment organization on food choice and variety perceptions

Erica van Herpen*, Anick Bosmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Food retailers can present specific products in a separate category (e.g., separate section for organic products) or integrated into the mainstream shelf. This study investigates how assortment organization influences consumers' variety perceptions and product choice. We argue and show that when an assortment is organized according to an individual's goal (e.g., organics), he or she is more likely to choose a product that is in line with his/her goal (e.g., choose an organic product), compared to when products are presented in a mixed display or when categories are unrelated to this goal. Moreover, the results of three experiments show that when assortments are organized according to a relevant goal, people perceive more variety in the category with goal-consistent products (an in-category heterogeneity effect), but tend to see less variety in the category with products that are not consistent with their goal (an out-category homogeneity effect). This implies that food retailers can direct consumers' choice, as well as consumers' perception of the assortment, through assortment organization. Size of the category is shown to be a boundary condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-204
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Assortment
  • Categorization
  • Organics
  • Organization
  • Variety

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