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PhD Program

PhD Thesis Defense, Ana Scekic, Marketing

Ana Scekic, PhD Graduate 2020, Marketing

Congratulations to Dr Ana Scekic, Marketing specialization, who successfully defended her Doctoral thesis at HEC Paris, on August 25, 2020. Ana will join the Erasmus University Rotterdam as assistant professor.

Thesis Topic: 
The influence of visual crowding on consumers’ search and choice experiences.

Professor Peter EBBES, HEC Paris, Professor Selin ATALAY, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

Jury members:   
Zachary ESTES Professor, Bocconi University
Oliver BÜTTNER Professor, University of Duisburg-Essen  
Ana VALENZUELA Professor, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, CUNY  
Marc VANHUELE Professor, HEC Paris      

Peter EBBES, Professor, HEC Paris, Supervisor 
Selin ATALAY, Professor, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Co-Supervisor


In this dissertation, I examine the influence of visual crowding on consumers’ product search and choice. Visual crowding reduces individuals’ ability to distinguish objects in a scene from one another, thus making product search and choice more difficult. In the first chapter, I show that individuals’ ability to find a particular target product in a display varies in function of the embeddedness of the target, which depends on the locations of the target and non-target products in the display. I propose a metric that quantifies how visually crowded a target is in each location of a given product display, and that can be used to estimate the amount of visual search effort needed to find the target. In the second chapter, I examine how visual crowding impacts choice – specifically, how reducing visual crowding by adding space between products in an assortment influences variety perceptions and purchase behavior. In the third chapter, I explore visual attention to a product display in presence of different distractors. Overall, in this dissertation I try to ascertain which elements of product displays can reduce visual crowding and improve consumers’ shopping experiences. This research contributes to the literature on visual attention and assortments, and provides new insights for product display designs, in online and offline retail environments.   


Keywords : Visual crowding, Visual search, Assortments, Perceived variety, Eye tracking