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EMAC 2022 Annual

A Field Experiment in Retailing on the Effect of Variety During Display Promotions

Published: May 24, 2022


Mareike Sachse, Humboldt University Berlin; Sebastian Oetzel, University of Applied Sciences, Fulda, Germany; Daniel Klapper, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany


Most agree on variety being a good thing. However, literature shows that too many alternatives may result in negative consequences (i.e., choice deferral or no purchase at all), often referred to as choice overload. In a field experiment with a major chocolate brand conducted at a German retail chain, we test for variety during a price and display promotion. The control group offered 23 chocolates on promotion, while test stores displayed a reduced selection of 16 products. We find a significantly positive effect of the display promotion on unit sales but cannot confirm on choice overload. Further findings show a stronger promotion uplift for less popular products in stores with high variety on the display. This suggests that more variety may increase consum-ers’ willingness to try new products, when the financial risk is low. We contribute to the litera-ture on variety for consumer choices by offering insights from actual purchases with store-level scanner data of display promotions.