CTFblog: Ten years of eye-tracking in consumer research2018-02-13
Often when radical technological development happens, I gaze at it from a distance and try to understand it's impact on my life. This time I got to be a part of the revolution. I’m talking about the eye-tracking revolution, a journey that has been amazing to be a part of during the past 10 years. A journey that has just started.
Ten years ago I approached Tobii Technology with a radical suggestion, to lend me an eye-tracker. This to create a new innovative lab environment for our consumer research where we could identify the communicative and selling characteristics of packages and create more knowledge on consumer behaviour. One year later CTF's consumer lab was open for business, but no one, including myself, knew exactly what to do with the lab. How to design an eye-tracking study, what to measure, and how to interpret the answers. This is when our consumer research journey began, and the quest to test the applications of eye-tracking to explore customer behavior and decision-making.
We started conducting a wide range of studies in our lab and developed fundamental knowledge needed to operate the equipment, and on how to collect, extract and analyze data. We conducted experiments on how the characteristics and the placement of packages affected consumer's decision making in a purchase situation. We studied the search process before a purchase decision is made, and the steps consumers undergo to make simple decisions in the grocery store. The fundamental principle is the relationship between visual attention and behaviour. The same principle was later moved out into the field. The general thought was to replicate lab studies in the field, but later on in the process we realized that there are many more questions that can be answered by field studies that stretch far beyond what is possible in the lab. One such example is a study that explored the relationship between shopping goals and resource depletion in the field using eye-tracking in three different field studies showing that the complexity of the first shopping goal influences the next goal because cognitive recourses are depleted.
One of the most important aspects of our success conducting research in this field has been our collaboration with Tobii Technology. They have given us the ability to influence development in the hardware and software depending on the limitations and possibilities of what we found in the different applications.
I have to say that it is amazing to be able to have an influence on innovative technological development that changes the world around me. When I look at the past ten years I get a feeling that the journey has just started. More and more people are understanding the power of eye-tracking. I see this from academia, industry and the consumer side. Companies contact me with relevant research and interesting problems that can be solved using eye-tracking. Colleagues around the world are applying eye-tracking as a research tool to answer multitude of research inquires. My little brother tells me how cool it is that he can play games with his eyes. I see a bright future for this technology as a researcher and as a user.
PhD in Business Administration
Here are som examples of our research:
Huneke, T., Shams, P., & Gustafsson, A. (2015). Does service employees’ appearance affect the healthiness of food choice?. Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), 94-106.
Otterbring, T., Shams, P., Wästlund, E., & Gustafsson, A. (2013). Left isn't always right: placement of pictorial and textual package elements. British Food Journal, 115(8), 1211-1225.
Wästlund, E., Otterbring, T., Gustafsson, A., & Shams, P. (2015). Heuristics and resource depletion: eye-tracking customers’ in situ gaze behavior in the field. Journal of Business Research, 68(1), 95-101.
Learn more about Tobii Technology at tobiipro.com