Is Eye Tracking Worth It? Measuring ROI when Experimenting with Eye Tracking Studies in Retail

In the crowded environment that retail has become, staying ahead of competitors and knowing what works (and what doesn’t!) requires many  research instruments and new ways of looking at data.

One innovative technology that gained traction in market research is 3D eye tracking – the process through which the shopper’s gaze and attention are captured, monitored and analyzed, with the purpose of gaining shopping behaviour insights and, in the end, increase sales.

If you’re considering eye tracking but still have questions about costs or possible implementation challenges, we’re here to discuss the ROI of getting shopper data through 3D eye tracking and how to keep costs low and mitigate risks as much as possible through no unnecessary investments. 

These are a few of the challenges our article is aimed at clarifying, dedicated to brands, retailers  or market research agencies still in doubt on whether to apply eye tracking studies as a way of accessing greater shopper research.

Stay tuned and find out what makes an eye tracking study worth your budget, why and when your company can take into consideration eye tracking research, at what costs and what can you get out of it. 

Why Is It Worth Using Eye Tracking in Retail?

When talking ROI, shopper insights can yield more value than a simple math calculation that shows you how much cash you made from your investment or how fast you recouped the money. 

Unlike other market research techniques, eye tracking is able to give the most unbiased and authentic insight about a person’s perceptions and desires. 

Each type of gaze, eye movement or blinking habit says something about the shopper’s subconscious and real feelings about a product, that can often be done unconsciously  at the moment of their first visualization. 

As a consequence, shopper attention data has become even more valuable than cash analysis because it yields more intimate insights and value – it’s pure, untouched by any human post-rationalization.That is precisely why it’s powerful when creating or selling a product for your target consumer. 

Thanks to its rawness, attention data is able to confirm or rule out your market research hypothesis, with no room for interpretation or bias. You will know if the change in the product you invested in or the fancy shelf display is worth putting budget in or not – and that is the kind of insight that powers data-decision making.

However, valuable attention data can be hard and expensive to collect if you use the tried methods that have been promoted on the market so far. Most of the eye tracking technologies imply headgear or glasses that have to be worn by shopper subjects.This devices are quite intrusive and interfere with natural buying behavior. The good news is that these are not your only options and that you can get the same data for less.

How Much Does Eye Tracking Cost?

As an Innovation Manager or Market Research Manager, budget is always an important variable when making decisions. Questions like How much should you invest to meet your research objectives?  OR What is an acceptable price/quality ratio for eye-tracking systems? are things we hear all the time, with good reason.

To have a starting point, we will assist you in mapping the eye tracking solutions out there and making a short cost-quality analysis.

There are lower-end and high-end eye tracker solutions. 

The price difference comes from:

  • data precision (the ability to correctly and stably pin the eye movements)
  • the hardware used 
  • and other factors such as accompanying software and support

While there is no exact price to an eye tracking system, as costs vary depending on the type of project and industry that is used in and its research objectives, some price ranges can be pinpointed, if you want to get a bird’s eye view on the types of investments a company can make in eye tracking research:

  • Middle-end eye tracking systems – 15,000- 25,000 EUR  used for taking eye tracking out of the lab environment and conduct multipurpose commercial or academic research
  • High-end eye tracking systems – 25,000+ EUR: used by industries that need very high accuracy and precision and extended studies such as neuromarketing and others alike.

A typical eye tracking option (that includes headgear) often ranges anywhere from 15,000 EUR to 50,000 EUR. Eyeware offers the same data, at a fraction of the cost.

Besides being intrusive, headgear is usually quite expensive. 

Here, at Eyeware, we make innovative eye tracking research accessible to any retailer, research company or internal innovation department that wants to better understand shopper behaviour and improve their retail strategy. We made it our mission to deliver eye tracking solutions that can easily pass the value for money test. 

That is where remote eye tracking comes to meet the needs of companies in search of an innovative, reliable and affordable eye attention monitoring technology.

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How to Keep Costs Low When Doing Eye Tracking Research 

Even though the earliest innovators are willing to pay a premium for cutting edge technology, that doesn’t mean you can’t mitigate risks by avoiding investments in expensive gear and consultants time.

Our 3D eye tracking technology collects your shopper data without any intrusive instruments that come with a hefty price tag. You will be able to get the same data with:

    • No glasses needed – It’s a non-intrusive research method that yields accurate, unbiased data. As opposed to regular eye tracking, 3D eye-tracking can remotely track visual attention from as far as 1.3m (4.3 ft) away.
    • No need to approach or disturb the shopper – Gathering data is anonymous and GDPR-friendly, it doesn’t disturb the shopper with annoying requests to wear devices while “mystery shopping”.
    • No expensive equipment needed –  Consumer grade equipment (that can be less than 200 Euro) can work with remote eye tracking software.This hardware, combined with a PC/processor that you probably already have in your office is all you’ll need to get started.
    • No consultants needed  You won’t need to finance consultants to assist you for the entire time you are running the study. 

So, no pricey instruments or sensors means no risky budgets – this way of running eye tracking studies mitigates the upfront risks one might take with gear and support.

Extended research studies that take months won’t need consultants on the premises or other investments other than an easy to use software license.

It’s as easy as mounting a camera on a shelf and you can start collecting shopper data from day 1. The only investment made is in the inexpensive hardware and software license. 

We’ve listened to feedback from research companies, retailers and brand managers, understood the struggles and issues, so we’ve developed a sustainable eye tracking solution that works with low-cost equipment and can collect data over long periods of time.

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All you need is a depth-sensing camera (hardware) to track thousands of customers in a GDPR friendly anonymous way and GazeSense, a software created to be able to map your store or your AOIs (area of interest – aisle, shelf display, products etc.).

By placing a discreet sensor on the shelf or point of sale, shopper attention data can be provided in real time or stored for later analysis.

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How to Estimate Eye Tracking ROI?

Just as with any honest research, no study can guarantee specific results, especially money-wise.

Eye tracking studies can however yield insights, a “change in performance” or “no change in performance” finding can have implications for future investments & changes.

However, estimating eye tracking ROI is not impossible: for example, an increase in shopper attention towards the product  by 10% can lead to 10% more shoppers considering the product, all the way down to 10% more sales – and that’s an easy way to tie research and innovation to revenue.

By optimizing attention you can immediately see how it trickles down to more sales.

3D eye tracking studies guarantee insights and clarity into your marketing, packaging and shelf performance.

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Are there any clear positive results after conducting a 3D eye tracking retail study? This is a very easy question to answer: definitely YES. 

But it is quite hard to measure. 

First and foremost, Return on Investment (ROI) is a performance measure that does not generate revenue unto itself in MR (market research). This is due to the difficulty in quantifying the value of what MR provides. What you will know for sure is that you will have better retail/sales insights, thanks to objective and quantifiable data, in a way you would not have without remote eye tracking at the shelf.

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What shopper insights can you gain?

By analyzing fixations, gaze points, revisits and other eye movement behaviours you will have insight into the shoppers’ buying behaviour and be able to find out:

  • How your displays or promotions are performing
  • How many of your shoppers turn into buyers
  • Where shopper spend the most time choosing
  • How they prioritize you against your competitors
  • The difference between what buyers say they do and what they actually do
  • Whether your new packaging is visible enough and desirable

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We started this article by stating the importance of being one step ahead. 

In whichever field of work, irrespective of the fact it is retail or not, innovation is key. If you do not explore new technological solutions, you will not be able to evolve and keep pace with your competitors, who do.  

In today’s tech-driven commercial playground, going from good to great retail strategy happens when you are innovative. Many developed, evolving or fastly emerging companies have budgeted for experimentation and innovation. 

Knowing what works and what doesn’t based on data is the truest form of ROI you can get.

However, innovation that is capable of providing precise and actionable data is not the subject of just another experimental budget. This technology proved its value over time and gained a well-deserved seat in the yearly marketing budget for many companies.

We’re  starting to understand that it all begins with a consumer’s authentic wants and uncovering his “why”s – your target and his raw instinct, that even he himself is not totally aware of. To be able to know what he really wants, you have to better understand him and his way of acting and making purchase decision. 

By going to the source of where buyers make their purchase decisions and extracting as much data as possible you lay the foundation for what could become a more informed, personalized and “blooming” retail strategy

What Actionable Marketing Steps Should You Take after a 3D Eye Tracking Study?

Retail data is essential and now you have it. But how can you act upon it? What exactly can you change after gathering and analyzing the data?

Some of the ways to improve the marketing, sales and merchandising strategy is to implement tactics like:

  • Organizing shelves and displays to meet the shoppers’ expectations
  • Making key products more visible
  • Configuring better in-store signage
  • Designing targeted offers
  • Evaluating the impact of packaging designs – testing the design, from concept, prototype to final execution and helping in the process of refining and improving the package
  • Crafting effective ad campaigns – conducting A/B testing locally with different layouts and messages to see what better performs, before going globally

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Examples of 3D Eye Tracking Studies Results

To make it easier for any retailer, marketing manager or market research agency to grasp the use of 3D eye tracking, we curated some publicaly available retail research projects.

One retailer used an eye tracking to study general shopping behavior of consumers choosing a ketchup category in a Tesco supermarket. 

The study was designed to optimize product package design and shelf placement of ketchup products within the store. Eye tracking accurately revealed consumers’ attention patterns and the specific information that was perceived or ignored.

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Another was interested in the buying behaviour in a frequently-shopped food category: a grocery aisle that many people shop weekly or bi-weekly.

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Wrap up: Is 3D Eye Tracking Worth It for Your Shopper Research?

Having access to your target’s unaltered mind is gold for your business. Shopper insights are just as valuable as cash.

3D eye tracking is a fundamental piece of evidence-based decision making in retail / shelf / merchandising / product / packaging / advertising strategies. It has already exceeded the “nice to have” stage and is finding itself as a highly investable & results driven research experiment, spreading fast and steadily among influential companies worldwide.

👉 Get in touch and we’ll help you use 3D eye tracking to improve your retail shopper studies.