RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Traditional methods for determining optimal product placement in stores - such as in-home user tests and online surveys – pose drawbacks.
  • Virtual Reality Merchandising, using mobile VR headsets with embedded eye-tracking, provides more holistic data and a faster, lower-cost process.
  • Accenture teamed with Qualcomm and Kellogg’s to pilot a VR-based solution that transforms how brands and retailers conduct market research.
  • The pilot confirmed high correlation between VR test results and traditional methods and produced an 18-percent jump in total brand sales.


Building the business case for merchandising in VR

Where is that just-right place on the retailer’s shelf for my company’s product? And what product assortment should I offer? Consumer brands and retailers invest considerable time and money seeking the answer and working together to agree on the optimal placement.

Traditional approaches to this kind of market research have limitations. For example, you could build an expensive physical store environment and invite focus groups to “shop” the shelves and then fill out a survey; or, you could create a “virtual” store on a computer screen to replicate the shopping experience, or mail products for consumers to try at home and then ask them questions in an online survey.

We see a better way through VR and eye-tracking. Recently, as Kellogg’s prepared to launch a new product, Pop Tarts Bites, the company sought market data to determine placement, assortment and promotion in store. Traditional tests—online surveys and in-home user tests—showed that consumers expected to find new products higher up on a shelf.

With Kellogg’s and Qualcomm, we developed a VR solution with embedded eye-tracking that produced a slightly different answer, and the results offer a glimpse at a new reality for brands, retailers and consumer testing.

Mobile VR with eye-tracking helps brands and retailers extend their reach to geographically dispersed participants, performing research faster, more affordably and at larger scale, while providing holistic conclusions.

VR merchandising solution with eye tracking: Deep dive

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Our experience shows VR merchandising pays off in at least four ways:

Expands testing reach to diverse locations

You can invite geographically dispersed consumers to use mobile VR headsets for product testing in their homes, at stores and during product roadshows.

Improves experience in branded environment

Shoppers can walk through a realistic virtual store model, look at shelves, pick up and examine products and place selections directly into their carts.

Increases dataset for analytics

You can gather deeper data through eye-tracking technology built into mobile VR headsets in a way that does not interrupt the shopping experience.

Decreases costs while improving flexibility

The VR-based solution makes it easy to test a variety of planogram combinations in a faster and cost-effective manner and reach a holistic conclusion for the product and the category.

How Kellogg’s saw real, desired results

With Kellogg’s and Qualcomm, Accenture Extended Reality (XR) designed an immersive experience based on the brand’s real-world need to test the planogram, assortment and pricing strategy for the launch of Pop Tarts Bites.

What truly set the VR-driven results apart? Additional insights from the eye-tracking analytics, providing a wider window into the shopper’s behavior than you typically would get from traditional testing methods like in-home user tests, or online surveys.

The VR testing revealed that when the Pop Tarts Bites were placed on a lower shelf – rather than higher up where consumers typically expect to find new products – testers paid more attention to other surrounding Pop Tarts products. That stimulated additional sales of Pop Tarts items, with an overall 18 percent brand sales increase during testing.

Thus, mobile VR with eye-tracking delivered a different, more informed and wholistic merchandising conclusion.

VR merchandising solution with eye tracking

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Getting started with VR merchandising

VR Merchandising at scale, with an easy-to-use mobile VR headset equipped with eye-tracking, produces deeper data and more informed conclusions, leading to more optimal product placement and assortment that considers the whole category and not just the single product.

Based on these outcomes, brands, retailers and consumer packaged goods companies can build a virtual store once and replace virtual product sets as needed to perform better consumer testing scenarios across more geographies, ultimately contributing to additional revenue generation potential.

Ready to explore the benefits of VR Merchandising for your company? We recommend the following steps:

  1. Define how VR Merchandising will fit into the entire merchandising process, versus viewing it in a silo.
  2. Define and capture the benefits of reusing layout visualizations developed in VR for testing, including how to transfer and operationalize the desired new layouts into stores.
  3. Encourage merchant adoption by demonstrating how this type of solution will allow them to free up their time to focus on more strategic tasks, rather than physical mock-ups and manual testing.
  4. Take a platform approach that includes capabilities such as experience builder, analytics and a 3D asset pipeline.
  5. Plan for a VR hardware solution that is cost efficient and allows for easy participation from dispersed consumer groups.

Raffaella Camera

Global Head of Innovation & Market Strategy – Accenture Extended Reality (XR)

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