The Marketing Blind Spot: What Eye-Tracking Tells Us About What We Don’t See

Quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers can provide valuable information. Understanding what your stakeholders believe, how they behave, and what motivates them is often just a few questions away. 

However, even the best respondent can only share what they consciously acknowledge. Often that can leave us with a strategic blind spot in triangulating the true basis of responses as we aim to move beyond what one says to understand the underpinnings of how they behave. This is especially true in studies in which respondents are reacting to stimuli. Be it a TPP, positioning concepts, messages, a CVA, or website.

Eye-tracking is the methodological component that can aid in reading between the lines.

Eye-tracking isn’t new—but how we at OptiBrand Rx deploy it is. A by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic is the reality that most of the population now has a high-resolution camera built into their computer, tablet, or smart phone. This enables us to conduct eye-tracking as part of both qualitative and quantitative studies at a scale that was never before feasible—unlocking a myriad of statistical analyses beyond the traditional heatmaps of yesteryear. 

Eye tracking is the measure of what a person is visually focusing on while completing a task. Software can track how a viewer’s eyes move across a stimulus and what parts of the stimulus draw the most focus. This is an invaluable tool to have in marketing, as these subconscious eye movements are an immediate response to what a person is thinking about, helping us fill in gaps about behavior or thought process that a respondent may not be able to fully articulate.

Our very own eye-tracking expert, Jessica VandenPlas, Ph.D. spoke at the Pharma Market Research Conference (PMRC) in February 2023 about the benefits of using eye tracking in market research. In this video, she encourages you to think about how eye tracking can serve as an additional layer of your next market research study. She offers many examples of how this technology can be used to better understand responses to messaging, product profiles, advertisements, product packaging, and more.

This technology is not going to replace the human aspect of a study, but it does allow us quantitative data to triangulate responses to interview and survey questions to better help us understand how individuals process the information we share with them, and what emotions this may evoke. It’s worth considering how any lingering questions in your research could be answered by adding eye tracking to your tool bag.