Eyes on the prize - tracking technology displays shelf presence

22 Jul 2013

An eye-tracking system designed to understand a consumer’s level of cognitive engagement with a pack could transform the way brand owners market their products.

The introduction of retail-ready packaging (RRP) has led to a rethink in the way brands and retailers display products. In order to monitor and improve RRP, brand owners need to be able to understand how the packaging and on-shelf presentation of their product is influencing the moment of purchase. Eye-tracking technology has been helping them to do this.

The primary aim was to look at how RRP can help shoppers find what they are looking for more quickly. But there is also an element of helping shoppers to find what they are not looking for even quicker.

The system uses both mobile (real world) and static (screen-based) eye-tracking to provide accurate, in-depth analysis of how customers interact with products – where they look and their levels of cognitive engagement – providing some valuable insights. Eye-tracking allows for more accuracy, too. Often shoppers may say one thing in a consumer survey and do another when they are in-store. As a result, a questionnaire-based consumer insight is not always accurate when compared to real-time eyetracker response.

Test shoppers wear eye-tracker wireless HD glasses, which track and record exactly how their eyes move and where they look on supermarket shelves. This provides a clearer idea of the factors that come into play before making a purchase.

It is early days, but initial tests indicate that RRP can help products stand out on the shelf during the increasingly complex shopper journey. For example, pilot tests showed that shoppers found their first choice products from a shopping list more than 10% faster when those products were displayed in RRP. Being able to show this to packaging and marketing professionals in practice is a powerful tool.

An additional reason for trialling the technology was to look at the role RRP has in navigation and disruption. The crucial final stage of purchase, the moment that the shopper decides to take that product from the shelf, is still unexplored territory, but this is an area where RRP can make a real difference. For a challenger brand in a category such as condiments, their product has to be able to disrupt the journey the shopper automatically makes to their regular bottle of sauce, and navigate them to their product. RRP could have an impact on that disruption and persuade the shopper to think about going for another brand.

Over the next few years, it will be important to develop processes that allow the packaging industry to be more agile, so that packs can be customised down to the level of specific stores. Looking ahead, it would be interesting to have RRP with topical messages that are appropriate to a region, or for the retailer to promote packs around a particular date. For example, a Wimbledon-specific pack for London SW19 in the months of June and July, or even a Glastonbury Festival-inspired message for stores in Somerset.

But what is really crucial for those in RRP is to understand that final step to purchase. That is, when the shopper’s hand is hovering over the box and they are making their choice, understanding that everything has been done to ensure the product is being presented and promoted in the best possible way on the shelf. Without that, none of the effort to get the product to that point will have been worth it.

For further information or to view videos of eyetracker at work, visit www.eyetracker.co.uk/eye-tracking-videos - See more at: http://www.iom3.org/news/eyes-prize-tracking-technology-displays-pack-ef...