How Can Using Odd Numbers Boost Your Sales?

In China, odd numbers are said to belong to Heaven. In Rome, a ruler added days to months to make them end in odd numbers. And some birds, like geese, even fly in odd numbers. You may not realize it, but you’re drawn to odd numbers, too. That’s why retailers and visual merchandisers have long followed the Rule of 3. Here we tell you why odd numbers are so impactful, and how you can take advantage of that in your displays.

Tip: VISUAL OASES…Create three places on the wall where there is no product and you’re not trying to sell anything, other than sharing your brand message and environment.

3, 5, 7It takes us fractionally longer to count uneven numbers than even ones, so we look at uneven-numbered product displays longer.

 

WHY 3’s

It’s all about asymmetry and an off-balance feel. As Dr. Valerie Wilson Trower tells Retail Design World, “The human brain likes to count things. Because we tend to pair items when we count them, we are more practiced at counting even numbers than uneven ones. It takes us fractionally longer to count uneven numbers than even ones, so we look at uneven-numbered displays for longer.”

Website REPSLY explains how to do it. “If grouping by height, have short, medium, and tall. If by width, fat, fatter, and fattest. If you truly want to stress price, arrange items in order from good, better, and best. The Rule of Three works for all product displays, whether it’s a display for small products or for mannequins.”

 

APPLYING 3’s

Here are three tips that will make the most of those uneven groupings.

  • VISUAL OASES. Anne Marie Luthro, principal of AML Insights, explains how to apply them to create visual oases. “Create three places on the wall where there is no product and you’re not trying to sell anything, other than sharing your brand message and environment. You can do it with humor, color, something fun or even educational—nothing heavy, but something that shifts our brain and lets us refocus.”
  • VIEWING HEIGHT. Travis Reed, CEO of Creative Visionary Inc., says to set off the eye-catching odd numbers of product and prop in your displays, make sure they’re the right height. “Make vitrines waist-high or higher, and place shelves at about five feet off the ground, where most people’s eyes naturally rest. Window displays should have your odd-numbered merchandise on risers or props so that products are at a comfortable viewing height.”
  • CREATE A PYRAMID. Most visual merchandisers try to build a pyramid-like shape with the merchandise and props, which is another reason groups of three work so well. The point of the pyramid? To draw the eye to an apex. “It’s all about going vertical,” stresses Eric Feigenbaum, New York editor of VMSD magazine. “Vertical merchandising moves the eye upward, opening new vistas and merchandise stories. Strategic positioning of highlighted vertical displays help put the spotlight on key items.”

 

Look at your own displays. If you are showing product in even numbers, take one away and see the difference. Share your experience and join in the Facebook conversation here.

Erinn Morgan