Blog: 5 Marketing Lessons from Eye Tracking Studies

Eye tracking is one of the most fascinating tools that businesses use nowadays for driving retail market research. In simple words, eye tracking is mapping what a consumer is looking at. Over time, researchers have realized that there is a huge gap between what consumers say and what they actually feel. But that missing piece of the puzzle is extremely important for understanding consumer behavior.

In-store marketing is not only about good design. Customer’s experience in the store plays into the ability of marketing messages to be noticed, read and understood. Keeping in mind where the shopper will be located when viewing the materials, from how far, and what else they are focused on are of paramount importance to judge the effectiveness of marketing in the stores.

Eye tracking research, especially when paired with survey research and consumer interviews can provide a deeper understanding of the role that experience plays into what the customer is paying attention to as they shop at retail shops.

In this blog, we look at five important marketing lessons obtained from various eye tracking studies.

1. Explicit signage


In a study conducted using eye tracking for a famous retail chain, it was concluded that big, graphic signage attracts most of the consumer’s attention. In a way, it also affects their purchase decisions to some extent. One of the most obvious reasons being that bigger fonts are easily visible even from a large distance, giving shoppers a better opportunity of exploring the store.

The study was aimed to understand consumer’s behavior while they explore the store. With the data showed that even when “there were standard ceiling-hung way-finding signs, as would be expected, the graphic signs were seen by 84 percent of customers while the ceiling hanging signs were noticed by only 54 percent.”


In another study conducted for a drug store, it was found that display signs above shopper’s heads act as a missed opportunity. Out of all the displays in the store, only a small group placed right on the shelf, in-line with the consumer’s gaze, stood out. The study concluded that the signs were placed on the shelves in the direct line of sight of the customers to attract their attention. This ultimately helped the shoppers easily understand the aisle organization i.e, which products were placed where on the shelf.

2. Keep messages short and simple

According to most eye tracking studies, customers pay less than two seconds of attention to marketing signs. This equates to approximately 3–4 words. To convey the message to a maximum number of people, the prime idea must be articulated within those 3–4 words. Unless the short messages are interesting, the customers will never be interested in more information.

The eye tracking research can also assist in understanding what words resonate the most with the customers. Words like “new”, “sale”, “discount”, etc. are found to attract heavy attention. Customers are often interested in trying out new products especially when they are labeled with ‘new’ or ‘discount’ tags. The words convey a simple, clear marketing message in relation to the products and hence, attract easy attention.

3. Pay attention to the Hot Spots

Any place where customers are not engaged in shopping provides as an excellent opportunity for pitching some information regarding sales, promotions, or any other in-store messaging. It is not a coincidence that some of the most impulsive purchases by customers are done while they are standing ideally near the billing counter.

Customers constantly need something to divide their attention. An eye-tracking study was conducted at a gas station to determine the difference in attention grabbed by signage placed at various points at the gas station. The study found that “the lowest percentage of shoppers were viewing advertising inside the store, and were most like to notice ads while at the pump. Customers also spent the longest time looking at ads at the pump and spent the majority of their time during the gas station trip at the pump.”

With eye tracking, the seller could easily pinpoint the key area for increasing their advertising efforts.

4. Product Packaging matters

Eye tracking has proven beneficial in providing valuable insights at all stages of the package development process. From strategy development to designing to campaigning, the technology has influenced several important marketing decisions. Without eye tracking, it is difficult to understand what drives a customer to buy certain products. But with eye tracking, you know exactly what they are paying attention to. The heat map on the product determines the most and the least focused points the customers pay attention to. If these points are not the ones that would boost your sales, then you might consider changing your package design.

SmartGaze creates substantial color-coded heat maps to give clear information regarding the least and the most viewed areas. The data also includes valuable information such as how much time the consumer spent looking at the product along with fixations, ratio, and revisits.

5. Choose the right shelf and aisle length

Another interesting insight that came out using eye tracking was that the length of the aisle affects consumer behavior. On aisles that are longer, shoppers eyes are drawn to shelves 2–5. With shorter aisle, the upper shelf gets more attention.

According to Mike Bartel, senior research director at Tobii Pro Insight, “The first three feet of the aisle are recommended for placement of attention-grabbing products. Most shoppers use the products in this space as a signpost for the aisle, instead of looking up to read the hanging category signage.”

SmatGaze uses Deep Neural Networks based architecture to analyze raw gaze videos. With some training, the algorithm understands what the key areas of interests (AOIs) look like and once that is done, it does the coding automatically.

Liked the blog? Read our other blog to know more about how our products help map brand presence and visibility in the retail market.

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Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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