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Wake up Your Customers with New Subcategories

June 30, 2010  

At first look, the task of arranging a category of products for your customers to choose from may seem to be relatively simple, say the authors of a new research report. "However, in reality, this task is quite complex," they note, "offering a virtually infinite number of assortment format choices."

Case in point: Today's online consumers are increasingly sophisticated—and demanding—regarding their search options at favorite sites. (Think of the array of cool category clicks at Amazon, Zappos, Netflix—the list goes on and on.)

So, what's a product-category manager to do to keep up with savvy-consumer search demands? Focus on your "subcategory formats," these researchers advise, and build in a surprise factor.

Example: In one restaurant-based experiment, these researchers showed sophisticated diners two menus. The "type-based" menu was organized by grouping the restaurant's different kinds of foods together—sandwiches, soups, etc. The "theme-based" menu was more of a surprise: It grouped foods by nationality—Italian, Mexican, etc.

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