Eye-Tracking Market Research: How to Execute a Successful Shelf Testing Study

Today, shelf testing studies used to test the appeal of packaging design in real-time (either virtually or in-person) to get customer’s opinions. 

As a result, more and more brands are leveraging eye-tracking market research. 

Why? The use of eye-tracking in conjunction with other biometric devices provides an objective measure of product packaging performance. 

In this blog post, our CPG market research company discusses how eye-tracking works, tips for designing a proper shelf test with eye-tracking, and the benefits of doing so. 

Eye-Tracking Market Research: How to Execute a Successful Shelf Testing Study

How Does Eye-Tracking Market Research Work? 

Most eye trackers use near-infrared technology along with a high-resolution camera to track gaze direction. 

Therefore, it can pick up changes in pupil size, direction, presence, attention, and focus. 

There are also three main types of eye-tracking technology:

  1. Remote
  2. Head-mounted
  3. Webcam-based

1. Remote

This method is ideal for any screen-based testing as participants are simply seated in front of an eye-tracker at a distance, and eye movement is recorded. 

2. Head-Mounted

This method includes eye-tracking positioned on eyeglasses for the participant to wear.

It is ideal for in-person shelf tests as it allows participants to walk around and exhibit natural shopping behavior. 

3. Webcam-Based

This method is the least expensive option. It allows for the flexibility for the respondent to participate in research in their own homes.

However, there is a trade-off in quality as it might not be calibrated correctly. 

Recommended Reading: 3 CPG Market Research Options for Excellent Consumer Insights

Benefits of Eye-Tracking Market Research

There are several benefits of eye-tracking compared to other types of market research.

Here are a few advantages Drive Research often finds.

1. Track Finite Details

Eye-trackers record gaze points, fixations, and the duration and order of the fixations.

It reveals what the respondent is viewing over the brief time that they browse the shelves.

Therefore, eye-tracking is beneficial because it highlights the key things that customers notice. 

2. Gain Authentic Insights

Unlike other market research techniques, eye-tracking is relatively unbiased and offers an authentic insight.

It allows brands to measure consumer actions whether they realize they are making certain decisions or not.

3. See Brands Through the Eyes of the Consumer

Eye-tracking also allows you to see what the product looks like from the eyes of the consumer.

This helps determine how shoppers prioritize the product over the competition and whether the packaging is getting attention or not. 

Tips For Successful Eye-Tracking Market Research

Because eye-tracking market research is a newer methodology compared to mystery shopping and intercepts surveys, there are a few things to keep in mind to assure the project goes off without a hitch.

Here are a few tips that our consumer packaged goods market research firm follows.

  1. Always over recruit participants: This is important, just in case there are last-minute cancellations. 
  2. Utilize both in-person and virtual shelf test options: In the COVID-19 era, it is important to make sure participants feel comfortable participating in research in-person. However, with new technology, market research firms can now utilize virtual shelf tests in 2D and 3D for participants to view and provide feedback.
  3. Research eye-tracking technology: Now, eye-tracking technology is affordable for any business, large or small. Find technology that meets your price point without sacrificing quality or performance. 

How to Leverage Eye-Tracking Market Research Results 

Through leveraging this technology, companies, and market research firms can learn about consumers’ emotions, motivations, and the level of engagement as they view the packaging.

Unilever, a company that produces food and household products, utilized eye-tracking in its shelf test when it looked to improve packaging.

Real-World Example: Unilever

In a quote from the Consumer Customer Insight and Innovation Manager Europe at Unilever,

“Using eye-tracking gives you the opportunity to look through the consumer’s eyes, so instead of only listening to an opinion we now see the analysis… and when we need a specific answer to a question, we use a lot of eye-tracking because eyes don’t lie.”

These insights allowed Unilever to optimize brand awareness, understand brand perception, and increase sales. This methodology is now routinely used by the company. 

Recommended Reading: Using Voice of Customer to Drive Product Innovation


Contact Our Consumer Packaged Goods Market Research Firm

It’s safe to say eye-tracking technology in shelf tests isn’t going away any time soon and is only expected to grow. Therefore, companies and market research firms must take full advantage of eye-tracking technology to learn more about their customers and increase ROI. 

Interested in conducting consumer packaged goods (CPG) market research? Drive Research can help. Contact us today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


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