Consumer-products companies are turning to new technology to overcome the biggest obstacle to learning what shoppers really think: what the shoppers say.
It turns out consumers aren’t a very reliable source of information about their own preferences. Academic research has shown focus-group subjects try to please their testers and overestimate their interest in products, making it hard to get a read on what works. But getting testing right is crucial for consumer-products companies because they ship high volumes and lack direct contact with shoppers.
To find out what really draws their test shoppers’ attention, companies like Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever UL, and Kimberly-Clark Corp. are combining three-dimensional computer simulations of product designs and store layouts with eye-tracking technology. And that, in turn, is helping them roll out new products faster and come up with designs and shelf layouts that boost sales.
Marketers are using eye-tracking. Here, a Brooklyn, N.Y., shopper.
Kimberly-Clark’s researchers used computer screens outfitted with retina-tracking cameras when testing the newest packaging for its Viva paper towels in 2009, says Kim Greenwood, senior manager in the company’s Virtual Reality Group. Their goal was to find which designs got noticed in the first 10 seconds a shopper looked at a shelf—a crucial window when products are recognized and placed in the shopping cart. They also wanted to know if the preferences held up on different count packages, from single rolls to multipacks.
By measuring the shopper’s response to different designs, Kimberly-Clark deciphered what caught shoppers’ attention, the most common starting point and the viewing sequence.
A screenshot of a ’heat map’ that Unilever created by measuring how long and how often test shoppers looked at packages on a computer screen. Unilever used a camera to track each tester’s eye movements.
"Combining these factors helped us select a ’wave’ design over a ’splash’ design," Ms. Greenwood said.
Screenshot of a ’heat map’ that Unilever created by measuring how long and how often test shoppers looked at packages on a computer screen. Unilever used a camera to track each tester’s eye movements.
Marketers have long been aware that product testers unconsciously seek to please researchers conducting the tests. Moreover, psychology and marketing professors say people often don’t realize what draws their eyes or how they truly feel about a product. They also overestimate the likelihood they will make a purchase, ignoring competing products and their own budgets.
"There’s often a big disconnect between what people want to do and what they say they want to do," says Steve Posavac, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University. "Any attitude," he says, "becomes more extreme" in research studies.
Researchers have watched test consumers’ eye movements for clues to their thinking since the early 1900s. But vastly improved technology in the past few years has helped them actually track retinas to get a true fix on where people are looking, for how long and how often. That information has helped dispel myths about what really matters in design.
Pentagon launching missile defense blimps to patrol East Coast 2014-12-19 19:21
The US Army is set to begin testing its blimp-like surveillance airships, designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles from attacking the nation’s capital and other East Coast cities.
The blimps at the center of the tests in Maryland are unmanned, 80-yard long, helium-filled aircraft that can float up to 10,000 feet in the air. At that height ...
Sony Just Canned 'The Interview' in the Wake of Terrorist Threat 2014-12-19 18:31 Sony has cancelled the cinematic release of The Interview in the wake of its cyberattack after the five largest cinema chains in the country decided not to run the film.
"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business," Sony wrote in its first statement on the matter, as reported ...
Sweden is so deranged, there are no words to describe it – Danish politician 2014-12-19 1:53 Politically correct Sweden is such a deranged society that there is no term in social science sufficient enough to describe it – argues Pia Kjærsgaard the Danish People’s Party former leader
In this article in Den Korte Avis, Kjærsgaard marvels at the fact that the politically correct are so desperate that they have graduated from using worn-out epiteths such as neo-fascists, ...
U.N. sending thousands of Muslims to America 2014-12-19 0:44
The federal government is preparing for another “surge” in refugees and this time they won’t be coming illegally from Central America.
The U.S. State Department announced this week that the first major contingent of Syrian refugees, 9,000 of them, have been hand-selected by the United Nations for resettlement into communities across the United States.
The announcement came Tuesday on the State Department’s ...
Why You Should Watch Beheading Videos 2014-12-17 21:13
Modernity is a dream. It is a dream that we can make the world something other than what it is through technology, prosperity, and above all “education.”
People will able to pick their own “gender.” Different cultures, races, and religions can blend into one seamless, corporate-friendly whole. And violence and death, it is implied, will be wished out of existence.
Today, a ...