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Capturing Consumer Attention in the Smartphone Era
Is it possible to take advantage of how consumers look at digital information to enhance their evaluation of products?
Online, consumers often look in a particular direction when processing text, animation or images of products, whether that be on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Among these categories, trends are also shifting. According to industry estimates, a whooping 72.9 percent of ecommerce to be conducted this year is expected to be done via smartphones, up 52.4 percent from 2016. Ecommerce sales on mobile devices are also expected to reach US$3.56 trillion, up 22.3 percent from 2021.
All of this makes it imperative that marketers understand how to present their products digitally to consumers, who are increasingly glued to their smartphones and tablets, to increase the chances of a successful online transaction. This is what we sought to do in the study Looks good to me: How eye movements influence product evaluation.
What we found was that in viewing images of potential products on a digital screen, the direction of a person’s eye movement can affect how favourably they evaluated it. We found that if the direction of these eye movements matched another set of eye movements that occurred recently, then the motion would be more “fluent”, and in turn this translates to better product evaluations.
Not only that, but we also found that eye movement direction can be triggered by the directional nature of a product. (For example, items such as cars, shoes or bicycles have different ends that point in a particular direction.) Finally, we found that product evaluations were also more favourable if eye movement direction matched the direction of travel of other bodily appendages, such as a finger.
“We found that product evaluations were also more favourable if eye movement direction matched the direction of travel of other bodily appendages.” – Prof. Hao Shen
There are obvious and straightforward implications for marketers when designing digital retail experiences. Since most people read information (including on a screen) from the left to the right, they may find it easier to move their eyes in a similar, rather than the opposite, direction. Marketing professionals should thus design product image animations to take advantage of this. Also, when they present products that are directional in nature, they should orient them to point towards the right-hand side of a display to make the viewing experience more fluent to improve a consumer’s evaluations of this product.
Marketing professionals may also do well to pay attention to the fine physical movements consumers may have recently employed leading up to encounters with a company’s products.
For example, when consumers use a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone to make purchases, they typically swipe the screen in an upward or leftward motion. Based on the findings of our research, that means consumers are likely to move their eyes towards the left side or the top of a product description. That’s why marketing professionals should consider presenting key messages they would like to convey in these areas in seeking to maximise the chances of success in a potential transaction situation.
To find out more about a specific topic, click on the links below to navigate to the relevant chapter:
INTRODUCTION – Retail Marketing in the Digital Era
PART I – Capturing Consumer Attention in the Smartphone Era
PART II – Digital Payments and Consumer Purchase Decisions
PART III – Can Social Media Platform Choice Can Affect Customer Feedback?
PART IV – Are Touchscreens the Future of Food and Beverage Retail?
CONCLUSION – The Importance of Understanding Retail Trends in the Digital Age
Director, MSc Programme in Marketing