By Kirk Hendrickson
Eye tracking delivers important insights about consumer attention: what people are looking at or what draws their attention and for how long. From this data, direct comparisons can be made about how competitive brands draw attention in stores, on desktops or mobile devices. The same technology is used to monitor, record and analyze shopper behavior to understand what visual cues might trigger someone to select an item off of a shelf in a store or engage with a social media post by liking or favoriting.
Simply, the eyes don’t lie. Eye-tracking metrics does not rely on consumer’s to remember what they saw or what they did. There is a video recording exactly that. And while memory plays a big role in shaping consumer opinion about media, brands and retailors, the things that are not remembered consciously are also stored in the brain and can influence perceptions of the world around us.
As new technology emerges or older technology becomes more accessible to marketers, researchers and brands, pairing eye tracking with these new ways to measure and understand consumer behavior creates am environment where we can even better understand the subconscious and reactive nature of how consumers move through the world.
Skin conductivity & heart rate monitoring
Using technology that measure skin conductivity, temperature and heart rate can be a great way to understand how an emotional trigger affects biometric response. When paired with eye tracking, this methodology becomes much more flexible and can be used in stores as consumer’s complete a normal shopping trip.
In one study Eye Faster completed with Ipsos last fall at grocery retailer Schnucks, we tested a hypothesis that we could elevate the mood of a shopper and that their mood elevation may have positive effects for the retailer as well. Test participants were given a Gerbera daisy as they shopped their standard grocery trip wearing eye tracking glasses and biometric monitoring equipment.
We found that receiving the flower increased skin conductivity for the remainder of the trip and raised heart rates of test shoppers immediately after receiving the flower significantly higher than the control group. In analyzing the eye tracking data, this research also found that those who received the flower rejected fewer items they selected off the shelf, were less focused on price after receiving the flower, and spent 5% more overall than the control group.
Facial coding is another recently accessible technology that becomes more flexible when paired with eye tracking. Typically, this technology is used when controlled stimuli are shown to an audience and the aggregate emotions of the audience are calculated using the Facial Action Coding System.
Pairing this with eye tracking allows researchers to understand even more precisely what an individual was looking at when an emotion was elicited. It can be easily used in a 3D environment such as stores or with less structured stimuli like while allowing a user to search, play games, interact with social media or read news on their mobile devices.
Pupil dilation occurs for many reasons including light, color, sound, memory cognitive load, emotional arousal and others. By controlling for the other variables, the pupils response during website viewing or other activities reflects emotional arousal. A large dilation of the pupil indicates the participant is experiencing a strong emotion that could be either positive or negative. The valance of the emotion can be inferred by asking follow up questions, surveying participants, and understanding their conscious reaction to what they saw.
The eye tracker is a great tool for measuring pupil dilation as it automatically records a video of the eye as well as diameter of the pupil, with no additional technology needed. After normalizing the pupillary diameter data for the duration of the stimuli exposure, and pairing with the eye tracking results, analysts can indicate specific areas of interest that elicit an emotional response greater or less than the baseline emotional response for the individual.
These new technologies are now at the fingertips of researchers who are looking to better understand what drives consumer behavior as they interact with the vast marketplace both online and in-stores. By leveraging the technologies paired with eye tracking, fully understanding consumer behavior in relation to attention and emotions is within our grasps.