Eye tracking in Packaging research: a case study

This smoothie packaging case study shows how to use eye tracking to measure customer attention.

Eye tracking can be a powerful tool in marketing research. Through this method, it is possible to measure the success of a social media campaign, digital advertisement, video, newsletter, image and packaging, just to name a few. Research has shown that consumers purchase products that had higher gaze duration than products with lower gaze duration, which means eye tracking research can help you understand which products or campaigns would be more successful in real life.

If you want to know how eye tracking technology can offer valuable insights for your product, check out this case study that used Oculid’s eye tracking solution.

Packaging study with 3 main hypotheses

In a study to measure attention in marketing through smartphone eye tracking, HTW Berlin’s Master’s student Shinto Joy used Oculid’s proprietary technology to conduct a research aimed at finding out find how a participant's attention changes towards different smoothies in terms of the design, package and their willingness to pay extra if the product packaging is more attractive.

Joy worked with three main hypotheses in his study:

  • Brand familiarity impacts the number of fixations given at a fixed time.
  • The attractiveness of the package influences the purchase intention of a person over brand familiarity.
  • A person is willing to pay more for an attractive product.

Goal of the study

The study aimed to provide an overview use of eye tracking in marketing research, understand the impact of visual elements of packaging on selected smoothie brands and evaluate participants' attention towards each smoothie product in terms of fixation counts and durations. In addition, the research intended to use smartphone eye tracking to find the impact of brand familiarity on attention pattern and identify the relation between brand familiarity and willingness to pay.

Research methodology

Joy conducted the study using Oculid’s testing platform and app for analyzing the attention and fixation counts of the participants towards each product. Six smoothie products were chosen: Innocent drinks, true fruits, Demeter, Froosh, Hoch 2 and Wholey. Each product was of different flavor and type like fruit, mixed fruits, mixed fruits and vegetables smoothie.

They are all available in Germany, however some brands such as Froosh, Hoch 2 and Wholey products were mainly sold via their online store. Products from Innocent drinks and true fruits were easily available in local supermarkets.

The study consisted of seven tasks - one for each visual stimulus as well as a final survey. Using a random sampling method, 30 participants downloaded Oculid’s app and were asked to complete all seven tasks. Before starting the testing part, they were all taken through a calibration process, where they were instructed to look at specific points on the screen, known as calibration dots. After the calibration, instructions were displayed to navigate to each task. After completing the study, participants had to upload the results, which were later accessible in the platform’s dashboard.

Under each task, participants engaged visually with each smoothie packaging for 8 seconds in order to identify the fixation points of each product for the allotted time. The primary questionnaire was set up as a separate task at the end of the test as Oculid allows for survey and questionnaires integration in the study.

From a total of 30 participants, 25 of them said they were smoothie lovers and 5 of them were non-smoothie lovers/drinkers. Overall, the average frequency of smoothie consumption between smoothie lovers were 3 times a week.

Analyzing through Video Replay and Heatmaps

From the eye tracking experiment, the overall attention of the participants towards each brand was obtained. By setting the video playback speed to 0.5x and observing the heatmaps, Joy was able to identify which element of each brand had received more attention or where the participant spend more time looking.

Looking at each brand, 10 (33%) participants looked at the smoothie name "energize" in Innocent smoothie and 9 (30%) participants looked at the ingredients, where only 3 (10%) participants noticed the brand name. In true fruits, 19 (63%) participants spent more time looking at the ingredients mentioned in the package, where 8 (27%) participants looked at the brand name. In Demeter smoothie, 19 (63%) participants spent more time looking at the smoothie name "crazy carrot." In Froosh, 12 (40%) looked at smoothie name/ slogan "think beach drink peach," and 12 (40%) looked at the brand name. Both the brand name and smoothie name attracted equal attention where in Hoch 2, brand name and picture received equal attraction. Looking at Wholey, since the brand was less familiar according to the survey, 13 participants (43%) spent more time looking at brand name and 12 (40%) participants looked at smoothie name "beet shot."

Overall, the catchy smoothie names received most of the participant's attention, followed by brand names. Respondents were least attracted to other elements like a label that mentions bio or organic product or the words written in smaller fonts.

Valuable insights

  • People look at what they know. Innocent drinks was the most familiar brand to participants and also the one that got the highest fixation points. Wholey was the least familiar brand to the participants and got the least attention, however participants spent more time looking at specific areas in Wholey smoothie than other products.
  • Uniqueness is key. Participants were asked to rate the products' uniqueness on a scale of 5, where 1= Not at all unique to 5 = Extremely unique. Results showed that true fruits and Hoch 2 smoothie packages were very unique compared to the other four products and it lead to people spending more time looking at the ingredients list. The packaging of Hoch 2 included fruits pictures that the smoothie contained, which was also one of the most examined packaging elements.
  • Attraction affects decision making. Respondents were asked how likely they would purchase the displayed products based on its packaging on a scale 1 to 5, where 1 = Not at all likely to 5 = Extremely likely. On average, Innocent drinks and Hoch 2 smoothies had a higher chance of being purchased by smoothie lovers, where non-smoothie lovers would go for true fruits and Hoch 2. Beet shot from Wholey had the lowest average willingness to purchase in both smoothie lovers and non-smoothie lovers. This shows that there is a relationship between attraction and willingness to buy.

Key Takeaways

Using eye tracking in food packaging research helps to understand how packaging has impacted the attention between consumers and can be used to evaluate performance of both consolidated brands known by the public and unknown brands who are still new to the consumers. → not sure this is clear

  • Packaging design elements: By conducting an eye tracking study on packaging designs, you can explore the relationship between different packaging elements like brand familiarity, attraction, uniqueness, and the participant's attention.
  • Brand familiarity and attention: Results show a strong correlation between brand familiarity and attention.
  • Purchasing decision: When it comes to purchasing a product, the attraction of a product has more impact than brand familiarity. Product attractiveness shows an almost perfect correlation towards purchase intention compared to the familiarity of the brand. Thus packaging has a significant impact on the participants' decision-making process and purchase intention.

With Oculid, you can test the attention your product gets compared to others and conduct A/B tests to analyse which packaging design appears more attractive to your current or potential customers.


June 14, 2021

  1. Shinto Joy. "Attention Evaluation through Eye-tracking in Marketing." Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin, 31 March 2021, Berlin. Supervisors: by Prof. Dr. Holger. Lütters and Dr. Ariane Agunsoye.

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