VR Shopper Research – Online or In-person, the Future Looks Bright

Eventually, the economy will recover, and the pandemic will be behind us. Meanwhile, we’re finding that many of our clients are now thinking about their long-term strategies.

In the last recession, a study from McKinsey showed that while most companies dramatically cut their costs and went into survival mode, those that made measured and thoughtful investments came out ahead of the pack and became market leaders.

Over the past year, while in-person shopper research has been on pause, all of our VR Research has been done online. Research participants can shop a virtual store just as they would in a physical store study, giving detailed timely feedback on why they made the decisions they made at shelf. We use immersive environments for both quantitative and qualitative research. For quantitative research, the respondent can fully navigate through an environment while all of their behavior is being tracked. For qualitative research, we immerse our moderator right in the environment where they can point to and discuss providing the appropriate context for better discussions.

The more realistic the situation, the more accurately we’ll be able to study how people behave. Just because we are doing more online research now does not mean we can’t create immersive environments to test behavior. VR lends itself beautifully to facilitating a discussion about behavior – VR allows brands to see their products through the eyes of their consumers and know exactly what they’re paying attention to:

What areas of the store did they spend the most time in?
What did they pick up?
How long did it take them to notice the new promotion?
Where did they move within the store environment?
What did they purchase?

By using VR to capture retail analytics, all these questions can be answered. VR is transforming retail analytics because it’s faster, more effective, and more economical. Explorer has the flexibility to conduct VR research online or headset-based when you’re ready for in-person.

Here are just some of the reasons brands and retailers are taking advantage of virtual reality solutions to answer their strategic business and marketing decisions:

1. It’s Faster

Either online or in-person VR is a great way to test early-stage ideas. There is no requirement to physically build out a space so different hypotheses can be tested within the virtual environment on the fly by testing variables such as colors, planograms, new aisle design, or packaging. Experiments can be conducted at much greater speeds than what’s possible with traditional testing. Visualizing concepts in a realistic virtual reality environment allows you to better understand which concepts make sense to be further evaluated.

2. It’s More Effective

Tracking eye movement uncovers additional insights that would’ve been missed otherwise by traditional testing. Eye fixations provide a detailed picture of how consumers scan the products and their surroundings even if they’re not aware of it. Eye tracking lets us see exactly what consumers looked at and in what order. All this data is collected without interrupting consumers because it’s captured automatically as they shop. Explorer captures eye tracking both in our online and headset-based VR applications.  

3. It’s More Economical

Building physical spaces with product and shelves to scale to conduct research can be expensive. By using VR, multiple tests can be conducted at a fraction of the cost. Virtual assets can be modified and swapped for little to no extra cost. By using Virtual Reality, you can cost-effectively create immersive testing environments. Explorer 3D environments can be used for both online or in-person immersive testing.

As we think about conducting shopper research going forward, VR has many advantages, allowing the flexibility to test online or in-person and both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Contact us to learn more about our immersive testing approaches and how we can help you build your business.

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