Eye Tracking Research: Definition and Benefits

Written by

Isabelle Moura

Published on

Recently, neuroscience has revealed that human decisions are primarily led by emotion, not rational thought, meaning that rationally processing and expressing the reasons behind a decision happens later. This means that, for example, choosing a product from a shelf is more complex than someone can imagine. In these cases, new and more accurate tools, like eye tracking research, come in as the best way to check consumer behavior at the shelves.

This new understanding of how subjective decision making is, clearly brings changes to the way we deal with, collect, and analyse data. It does not mean information collected through traditional methods, like surveys, interviews, or focus groups, is irrelevant though. This kind of information is still vital for every research, and always will be. Rather, it means that turning to more subjective data collection methods like mobile eye tracking can provide even deeper insight into the consumer’s mind. 

How Eye Tracking Research is Done   

Eye tracking research can use virtual methodologies, like VR headsets and life-sized virtual aisles, that allow in-context shopper research. These devices can be installed in a strategic spot that fits best for the research, which is perfect for companies looking for in-depth knowledge about consumer behavior at the shelf. Both options include eye-tracking with a perfect replicate of the in-store experience, and using VR headsets and virtual aisles also helps to combine various methodologies, like retail ethnography and qualitative shop-alongs. 

Improvements and Metrics

One improvement that was made in the eye tracking research process was that every product on the shelf started being coded. Usually, brands trying to measure or predict new package performance would code only for their product, and not the rest. This would give accurate results about how much attention the new package gets, but this data alone might not be enough. 

Sometimes, catching the customer’s eye more effectively also means bringing more attention to a competitor’s product as well. So, the brand would certainly have a revenue increase as their product becomes more visible on the shelves, but the same would happen to the competitor. Coding every product on display is what gives a full and accurate look into the product or package real performance, and how beneficial it can be for the brand.     

As for metrics, there are many ways to measure the best way to place your product on the shelf, and the effectiveness of that placement. But three specifically are considered the best. 

  • Share of engagement 

The share of engagement considers the total engagement, in seconds, of all products on the shelf. It means that, the higher the share, the more attention the product  is attracting from other products on the shelf.

  • Percent noticed 

This shows the average percent of shoppers who notice each product. It serves as a good way to measure the product’s initial attention, when the consumer first notices it, but it does not mean it is retaining that attention.

  • Engagement 

Engagement measures, on average, how much time each product gets from the shoppers’ attention. Like the share of engagement it is measured in seconds, but the main difference is that the share of engagement represents the attention given to all products on the shelf, while engagement is the measure for each product.  

The Benefit of Eye Tracking for Brands

The longer a shopper looks at a product, the higher the buying probability. As a matter of fact, one additional second of engagement can increase the purchase probability from 43 to 550%, depending on the brand. Obviously no company or brand wants to miss this opportunity to convert new clients and increase sales, so using mobile eye tracking is a great tool to analyse product engagement and achieve these goals. 

During our many quantitative and qualitative projects in the retail and shopping experience area, we have realized that sometimes it is extra difficult to get into the shopper’s mind. Also, as we have already stated many times, we are passionate about innovation and technology. So, it is with great excitement that we watch as these new, more innovative, ways of making research come up. Our goal is to stay attentive, and why not lead, innovation in every process and guarantee the best for our partners.         


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