SEPTEMBER 18, 2016

Eye-Tracking and
Shelf Layouts for CPG Clients

This is what I think about at the Grocery store

Have you ever wondered why your favorite bag of potato chips is always located in the middle of the grocery aisle, or why milk is placed all the way at the back of the store instead of a more convenient location? Have you gone into the store with a short shopping list and left with two times the amount of items than you intended to purchase?

Chances are, researchers for companies that make the products you see every day at the store had a part to play in why you had to trek through the entire grocery store and why you decided it was imperative to add a bottle of Pepsi with its new packaging to your cart at the last second. For years, marketers at large consumer packaged goods companies have been researching what attracts shoppers like you to their products in a retail environment. Traditional methods of gauging consumer preferences, like focus groups, can provide quick answers to these companies about their products, but research has shown that this feedback doesn’t always align with product sales. Researchers have found that subjects in focus groups may express more interest in a product (or its packaging) to please their experimenter, which could lead to incorrect estimation of how much of the product will sell in-store and very unhappy business managers.  

One method of researching shopping behavior is to test subjects in a controlled environment with eye tracking software, such as the ASL Mobile Eye or the Tobii Pro package that the UI Neuromarketing lab utilizes in their studies.  

One method of researching shopping behavior is to test subjects in a controlled environment with eye tracking software, such as the ASL Mobile Eye or the Tobii Pro package that the UI Neuromarketing lab utilizes in their studies.  

In order to better understand what shoppers are really thinking as they stroll down the aisles in a store, companies have begun to use more advanced measures, such as eye-tracking technology to test product packaging and shelf layouts. This technology is exciting to the marketing industry because it allows companies to assess whether or not shoppers are actually noticing their products on displays in real-time, and also analyze their behavioral interactions with the product once it has been noticed. Because this technology is fairly new to marketing and thus costly, many companies hesitate to utilize it as expertise is required to determine the best methods that will yield the most accurate results. 

Through my ICRU research project and honors thesis (during this current academic year), I will work with Professor William Hedgcock in the University of Iowa Neuromarketing Lab to test the effectiveness of multiple eye-tracking methods for a consumer packaged goods company and a retailer. Specifically, we are developing 2D and 3D sample shelf layouts that will be utilized in a variety of mediums, in which we will track the eye movements of subjects as they “virtually shop” for certain products. We expect the behavioral data that we collect will not only answer whether certain shelf layouts are more effective than others, but also provide research partners with information on which testing methods will most accurately reflect real market data in the future. 

Stay tuned for more information!