Seeing is believing

No matter how pretty my charts are or how engaging my presentation style is, nothing excites the client quite as much as a juicy verbatim …. until now!

Much has been written already about the merits of Eye-Tracking as a research methodology, not least Rachel Rockey’s excellent earlier blog /?p=4485.  However, eye-tracking has the power to bring qualitative research to life in a new and fascinating way.

Once, eye-tracking technology was the size of a small car and mobile recording devices not much smaller.  This meant that whilst you could ask a respondent to walk around a store and watch what they look at, to do so required equipment of almost preposterous design.  The theory of ethnography requires observation without interaction, but when you’re wearing a natty little hat with chin straps it’s rather difficult to forget that you’re being watched and if that is the case, then it’s not unreasonable to infer that their behaviour will be somewhat altered potentially rendering the research less valid.

As with mobile phones, so it is that vision goggles have grown smaller and smaller, to the point that now a shopper can be asked to place a pair of spectacles on and “go shop“.  The technology now provides us with the ability to harness what we always yearned for, a customer eye view of the world.

We can begin to see the types of promotions that attract attention, we can begin to understand how long the consideration phase and what’s involved and we can do all of this without peering over the shoulder making our respondent uncomfortable.

To this technological marvel, we can of course add traditional qualitative exploration.  We will have begun with a general discussion in order to explore claimed behaviour, best done after the shopping trip in order that it doesn’t influence behaviour.  This is followed up by reviewing the video footage (instantly downloaded via usb) where specific behaviour can be discussed and probed in order to gain greater understanding.  Of course, not all behaviour can be recalled and explained, although that insight as to what is conscious and subconscious behaviour is initself interest.

In my experience, the real value of this “data” comes at the analysis stage.  As with my previous mentioned verbatim, judicious use of actual consumer behaviour within the debrief can helpt to evidence your insight and excite the client in equal measures.  Finally, we can almost walk in our consumer’s footsteps.

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Sunita Bhabra
01962 842211
Article date - 29/04/2013
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