Eye tracking in food research Eye-tracking is beneficial for market researchers to understand consumer choice behavior better through visual attention

Eye tracking in food research
Eye-tracking is beneficial for market researchers to understand consumer choice behavior better through visual attention. It helps in analyzing the visual information acquisition patterns and search for correlations between visual attention and consumer behavior. (Hayk Khachatryan & Alicia L.Rihn). Therefore eye tracking has many uses in consumer behavior research and can help in answering research questions related to product, package and consumer design (wastlund et al, 2010). It helps to determine what visual patterns can be used to acquire product information, what information impacts consumers’ decision and which product design is visually appealing. (Jesper Clement ,2007).
An application of eye-tracking in food research can be given by a case study conducted by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and her co-workers in 2012 involving Jamjars. The objective was to relate package elements and the message that they conveyed. They also wanted to study which packaging design impacts consumers’ willingness to try. In this study eye-tracking and word association method was used. Word association method is a qualitative method where the participants are provided with the stimulus and asked to reveal their first thought that comes to mind with regard to stimulus. The images were displayed in the screen for 2.5s as it is the amount of time spent by consumers when looking at a package in a supermarket aisle (Spence & Piqueras-Fiszman, in press). This was followed by 1s of the white screen. The results from the heat maps showed that the shape of the bottle and the packaging label influenced participant’s willingness to try the product .They concluded that certain elements of packaging can be used to drive consumers’ attention to one or the other element as required by the food company.
Another interesting application of eye-tracking in food research is analysis of food label and its use. Food label plays an important role in consumers buying decision and their perception. (Attila Gare, Laszlo sipos, 2006).Denize Oliveira and his co-workers conducted a study in 2015 which involved consumers’ attention to functional food labels and to differentiate between regular and probiotic milk. In this study four labels were designed with two variables which was type of product (Milk vs. Probiotic milk) and label background (A;B). The images of the labels were displayed in the monitor for 20s followed by white screen for 80ms. Participants had to also look for these labels and write down four words that came to their mind. The results showed that the graphic design of the labels were more effective in communicating the specific characteristics of the products. There was a decrease in the depth with which they processed specific areas of the labels, as the information content increased.
The label design and graphic design increased attentional capture for specific information. They concluded that graphic design needs to be the key strategy to generate health related associations in consumers.
Online shopping is a recent trend that is followed by the consumers these days. Regular grocery shopping is time consuming whereas online shopping is quick and easy. According to shoppingVista(2013) around a fifth of households in the UK are buying groceries online every month. The growth of online shopping is expected to increase by 15% per annum and account for 10% to 12% of the market by 2020(Rankin, 2013). Since there will be growth of online shopping in future, a study was conducted by Yael Benn and his co-workers that investigated on what information the shoppers seek when purchasing groceries online. In this study participants were asked to do weekly shopping using a real website (British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer, Tesco). The eye movements of the participants were recorded and analyzed. Results showed that more than 50% of the fixations were on the navigation page (i.e the pages that listed the products within particular virtual departments) and 30% fixations in the search bar. This may be because navigation is less demanding and is consistent with a low-involvement theory of grocery shopping (Hoyer, 1984; Lastovica ; Gardner, 1978). This indicates that navigation method is most frequently used to find the products. No significant difference was found between number of fixations on the picture and product title information. Results from the eye movements revealed that once the product was found, the pictures and titles of the respective products were most significantly viewed. Less than 10% of the participants looked at the ingredient list or nutritional information. It was also observed that the dietary restriction and the product information search were not related. The authors concluded that consumers tend to navigate the virtual departments when doing an online grocery shopping and once the product is identified the image of the product is examined rather than seeing detailed product information.