Better Behavioral Insights with VR and Eye Tracking

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Delivering a unique shopping experience is critical to surviving in today’s competitive retail landscape and virtual reality is the perfect way to test what is going to break through in store.

VR research enables in situation testing which is at the core of behavioral science. To measure behavior properly VR provides life size interaction within environments that show your product next to your competition, a key factor for any behavioral research study. Environments can be created to test any number of retail scenarios grocery, drug, convenience or mass.

Testing new, innovative ideas in an actual retail store is very costly, time consuming and highly disruptive for shoppers. Using a virtual environment, concepts can be developed, ideas tested and results generated faster and for lower cost.

Another advantage of virtual research versus testing in store is the ease with which the environment can be controlled. Shopper’s reactions to a new package, product or different aisle or shelf configuration can now be tested without unforeseen, uncontrollable variables like bad weather or disturbances from other customers in store. Moreover, the experience for each individual can be customized.  Users can approach from different directions and walk and browse shelves at their own pace and interest.

VR properly measures behavior versus online research by having respondents experience your environment in an immersive life-size experience versus seated looking at a computer screen. Real shopper behavior can’t be effectively measured on a computer screen. VR research can also be conducted right in the retail environment and shoppers can be intercepted as they enter a store. You can then ensure you are capturing that “in the moment” shopping mission with shoppers.

The applications of VR are endless. Take assortment for example, getting the right product variety has always been important to retailers. Because you can iterate and test using virtual reality without being limited by space or cost, the right balance of products can be found before executing in store.

New signage is often difficult to adopt in order to convey the message you want. VR lets you fine tune the messaging and execution giving you the confidence that your signage will appeal to shoppers even before you roll it out.

VR can also be used to test packaging. When a customer approaches a shelf, you want to know what they see at 20 feet, 10 feet and 5 feet. The total store context of VR allows for the study of this behavior.

Explorer uniquely combines VR with eye tracking – a key behavioral science component that measures exactly what customers are viewing and engaging with. The combination of VR environments and eye tracking allow Explorer to effectively measure behaviorally what is working. The applications are extensive and include retail design, planogram, new product testing and retail reinvention research.

Anne Stephenson
Partner, Explorer Research

anne stephenson

Marketing Research Technology