NEWS26 August 2009

TNS Magasin tracks shoppers’ eyes and brains

Technology UK

UK— TNS Magasin is combining mobile brain-scanning technology with its eye-tracking services in order to track shoppers’ emotional and cognitive responses to what they see in a store.

The TNS-owned retail research firm has been using an electroencephalography (EEG) system from US neuroscience firm EmSense, which scans activity in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. EmSense’s system uses a band worn by the research subject around the forehead, allowing brain activity to be monitored in real shopping locations.

A project using EmSense’s technology has already been completed with sports retailer Foot Locker.

TNS Magasin’s founder Siemon Scamell-Katz said: “The combination of these two powerful methodologies is fundamentally challenging many received ideas about in-store decision-making. At last we are able to gain insight into responses to the visual stimuli that the shopper actually looks at, as well as pre-frontal cortex responses. This enables us to gauge the relative roles of emotion and cognition at each and every stage of the shopping journey to understand, literally, what is going on in shoppers’ minds.

The firm is also combining its software with that of German usability researcher Eye Square (which is also part-owned by TNS). Eye Square’s web-based software allows analysts to work much more quickly through digital video recordings, cutting the cost of eye-tracking without compromising quality, said Scamell-Katz.