Merchandising Know-How: Test Your Retail IQ – Shopping Psychology Answers

Here are the Retail IQ test answers for the "Retail IQ Shopping Psychology" test questions --(box checked and in bold for each correct answer and an explanation of why the answer is correct is provided at the end of each question section).

How did you do? Here are the Retail IQ test answers for the "Retail IQ Shopping Psychology" test questions -- (box checked and in bold for each correct answer and an explanation of why the answer is correct is provided at the end of each question section). To score your level of knowledge, match your correct number of answers to the scale: 10 = A, 9 = B, and 8 = C. If you scored less than eight correct answers, you’d better get Paco Underhill’s book, “The Science of Shopping” and start studying archived stories in the SNEWS® Merchandising Hub section!

Underhill is the managing director of Environsell Inc., a company that works with retailers to study customer movement and behaviors in stores via discreetly positioned video cameras. The footage is analyzed and insights gained. Underhill’s observations highlight the importance of purchase decisions made or influenced at the point of sale.

1. Which of the following fields determines if a retail store "works" or "doesn't work"?

Retail anthropology

Retail Psychology


Market Research

Retail anthropology maps patterns of consumer behavior: which aisle in a store seems the most productive; what kind of overhead lighting and music is conducive to purchasing; what kind of displays lure shoppers into the most lucrative parts of the store etc.

2. What color has market research found makes customers feel like spending money?


Dark green

Light purple


Light purple or lavender (as it is sometimes called) is an interesting color in that it can mix with any other color. It exudes a feeling of calm and comfort and, when used in a retail environment, causes people to linger longer. We all know that the longer customers are in a store, the more they buy. Lavender is also very appealing to women.

3. According to Paco Underhill, which is the worst location for a retail store?

Next to a competitor

Next to a bank

In a shopping mall

On a main shopping thoroughfare

According to Underhill, shoppers walk by banks quickly. Why? Bank buildings are generally devoid of display windows and outside interest. They are boring and tend to look like fortresses. A retail store adjacent to a bank is likely to go unnoticed as shoppers hurry by.

4. What is important about the "transition" zone (the first 15 feet inside the door) of a retail store?

It is the space in which the store's most popular products are displayed.

It is the space in which a salesperson offers assistance.

Before this space, shoppers do not feel they are inside the store yet.

After this space, shoppers are considered potential buyers.

The transition zone gives customers time to get adjusted to the store environment and scan the premises to determine if they are interested in continuing in or would rather leave. In theory, they really haven’t entered fully into the store. It’s up to retailers to position merchandise so it can be seen easily from the front 15 feet of the store to persuade shoppers to continue into the rest of the store. A snappy display to the right of the transition zone is a great persuader and adds visual excitement. And it can be assumed that, after the transition zone, shoppers are potential buyers so, if you answered option No. 4, you can count that correct.

5. Upon entering a store, most shoppers head in what direction?



Straight ahead

It depends on the store.

No one knows for certain why there is a predilection to turn to the right when entering stores. Some say it has to do with the way water swirls down a drain (I don’t think so). Others say it is tied to the fact that we drive on the right side of the road. Whatever the explanation, most people will walk toward the right upon entering a store.

6. Which of the five senses is NEVER engaged in persuading customers to make purchases?






None of the above

All senses are engaged in the buying process at one time or another.

7. Which of the following "theories" helps to determine aisle width in retail stores?

The Invariable Right

The Decompression Zone

The Body Factor

The Butt Brush

When shoppers are touched from behind by another person, they become irritated and move on without returning to buy. Aisles must be wide enough for people to pass without touching each other. A good rule of thumb is aisles wide enough for two to three people to walk together without touching. Paco Underhill, author of “Why We Buy? The Science of Shopping,” coined the term “butt brush.”

8. Marketers plan campaigns to appeal to which side of the brain?





The right side of the brain is where emotions and the unconscious mind reside. This side is more susceptible to images and suggestions.

9. According to experts, what is the best layout for a retail store?

Placing the best bargains at the front of the store.

Placing the most expensive items at the front of the store.

Placing the store's signature item at the back of the store.

Placing the store's signature item at the front of the store.

It’s the equivalent of grocery stores placing the milk at the rear of the store to force people to walk by other products. A store’s signature item may be outerwear leading up to fall/winter. It may be footwear year-round. Determine what products are most requested in your store and place them in the back to draw traffic past other product categories.

10. Which of the following is NOT an explanation for the difference in men's and women's present shopping patterns?

Primitive hunting and gathering societies

Left-brain versus right-brain thinking

The female nesting instinct

All of the above

In primitive times, men were hunters and women were gatherers and it’s not so different today! We also know that right brain thinking is more susceptible to suggestion.

Sharon Leicham is the creator of The MerchandisingHUB, the author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and "How to Sell to Women" and is a regular columnist for SNEWS® writing on merchandising and marketing topics. You can access all of her columns by going to, where you will find tons of information targeted at the needs of the independent specialty retailer. You can email us with questions and comments at

For more retail training support and know-how, be sure to check out the SNEWS® Business 101 tools and stories, including our 10-part Retail Merchandising Training series produced by SNEWS®, including a useful online calculator for performing the most common retail merchandising calculations -- free to All Access Subscribers.


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