The Power of Eye Tracking Shoppers

You may have seen our recent video (link here) which talked about the importance of understanding system one behaviours through shopper research.

One powerful research technique that allows you to do just that is eye tracking.

Eye tracking was first introduced as a technology suitable for shopper research way back in 1993, so it’s certainly not new, but still very effective due to its ability to get beyond conscious rational thinking.

Eye tracking works through utilising an infra-red beam to track exact eye movement. It can measure what the eye is looking at and more importantly, what the eye is fixating on (a defined period of time which is proven for the brain to have had the opportunity to process something). We can’t cheat our eyes – so seeing what the eye is naturally drawn towards helps us to understand what within a shopping context is attracting our sub conscious and therefore what is effective in terms of shopper activity.

The key of course is how we can extract action-driven insight from this technology. We believe there are three main applications for eye tracking research in the shopper sphere…

1. Merchandising Optimisation – eye tracking enables us to understand the visual process used to find and buy products by identifying fixture/web hotspots. We can see which shelves, brands and products are attracting attention and how this correlates with what shoppers buy. This insight allows us to maximise product positioning on shelf; ensuring our brands have the greatest chance of being seen and purchased. Eye tracking quickly picks up when a fixture is difficult to shop – our eye movement will be sporadic and forced to cover a lot of ground. This provides us with powerful clues as to how we could re-arrange products to make this process easier and more efficient.

 2. POS Optimisation – understanding what communication items people don’t look at through eye tracking could significantly reduce investment in ineffective marketing materials. Eye tracking pin-points the items that are seen, where they are seen and for how long; generating a clear format and location strategy for future POS activity.

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 get noticed and purchased.

With improvements in virtual technology and web-based eye tracking, this methodology is not limited to the store environment either. It’s now possible to eye track respondents using in-home online research, linking eye tracking to virtual shelves/products

The best way to use eye tracking data however is to combine it with other techniques and tools – layering richness to your insights.

In summary, eye tracking is a great research technology that when applied and interpreted correctly, can be used to create some powerful insights that help with merchandising, POS and Packaging optimisation.

Look out for our future posts which will focus more on the real insights eye tracking has generated around merchandising, POS and packaging.

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