#4 - Narrow aisles increase interest in variety & novelty

In Western cultures, choice is viewed as a way to exert control over one’s environment. And when people feel physically confined, their shopping habits change.
— Journal of Consumer Research, 2009; Levav et al.

When shoppers find themselves in stores with narrow aisles, they react in a surprising way: they seek variety. Confined spaces might help people diversify their choices.

So called "psychological reactance" explains it: people attempt to regain their freedom in situations where they perceive it to be threatened.

Research participants in the narrow aisle chose a greater variety of candy bars and were more likely to choose unfamiliar and unique brands. In a real-world study, increased shopper density led to more varied choices among supermarket customers.


In larger, less crowded stores, focus on stocking multiple facings of a few better-known or dominant product offerings. Deliver a greater variety to more crowded and smaller stores.