The Power of Eye Tracking

We’ve talked in general about technology application for shopper research in our previous blogs, so we now want to focus on how to apply some of the specific technologies to shopper research. Today we will concentrate on eye tracking.

Eye tracking was first introduced as a technology suitable for shopper research way back in 1993! The technology has come a long way from the clunky camera mounted cycle helmet used back then; making the technique far more widespread, cost effective and accessible. However, the power of the technology will only be harnessed through successful application to your business issues.

Eye tracking works through utilising an infra-red beam to track exact eye movement. As so much of our shopping behaviour is sub-conscious, eye tracking is invaluable for understanding the visual cues that shoppers use sub consciously to find, shop and buy their chosen products.

When should eye tracking be used?

It has three main applications in retail/etail …

1.Merchandising Optimisation – understanding more about the visual process used to find and buy products by identifying fixture/web hotspots to help us maximise product positioning on shelf

2. POS Optimisation – understanding what communication items people don’t look at is as insightful as understanding what they DO look at! As so much of our visual environment is discarded; being able to understand what POS items aren’t seen could save thousands of pounds of unnecessary marketing spend, allowing us to concentrate on the items that ARE seen and utilised throughout the shopping process

3. Packaging Optimisation – many new products fail because they lack stand out on the shelf. If we understand more about what products, brands, colours and shapes create shopper cut through in a category, we can use those visual cues on pack to ensure our brands to get noticed and purchased!

Are all eye trackers the same?

It is not just about choosing eye tracking as the correct technique to meet your business needs – the type of eye tracker you should use also needs to be considered in-line with the business questions you are trying to address. If you are interested in understanding web-based eye movement, then static eye tracking equipment such as Tobii will be most appropriate. However, mobile eye tracking is better suited for projects conducted in a bricks and mortar environment.

If you’re objective is to unpick the most important elements of your pack or POS message, then the type of eye tracker you use will be essential, as some eye trackers are better equipped to measure visual activity to a detailed pack level than others; which is why getting to the heart of your issue is key before jumping to the technology solution!

Eye tracking is particularly useful for understanding the shopping process in environments/categories where physical product contact is limited and visual cues are key to selection – such as fast food, bars, kiosks and tobacco. However, eye tracking is not the best tool to understand shopper issues such as how to layout a store or how to optimise range and space. Equally eye tracking alone may not provide all the answers to any business issue. As with all shopper insight, the key is in interlacing different technologies and methods to get the best results.

Our next blog will focus on the different techniques and technologies available to observe physical shopper behaviour…

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