System 2 thinking is slower, considered, analytical thinking, requiring cognitive effort.
With so much choice, shopping has become about deselection, with shoppers employing shortcuts to make decisions. That way they can cut out the chatter and shop on autopilot. For a standard shop, they use markers like brand familiarity, or value signals, or a product’s store or shelf positioning. They only apply rational, considered decision-making when considering a purchase that is not on their usual shopping list.
With deselection, when researchers ask research participants to explain their shopping choices, they post-rationalise their behaviour, distorting what happened through different influences. Why? Because they don’t know why they made that choice — they just think they do.
In this situation, asking about behaviour may reveal cultural bias, social expectations, the mood of the moment, status projection and other projected reasons. That is why high purchase intent scores promised by marketing research don’t always translate into checkout sales. Only observing behaviour reveals the truth.
The global consumer research body ESOMAR published a paper in 2018 comparing the behaviour of real world shoppers with VR shoppers when exposed to identical point of sale options. The correlation of behaviour was highly aligned, leading the paper to conclude that VR is an accurate predictor for real world shopping outcomes. For more information, see here.
As we conduct studies, we are benchmarking the VR purchasing data in our baseline study against real market data, with a very high correlation. This means our clients can have a high degree of confidence in the forecasts that SHOPPER360 produces for additional scenario testing.
We set up our virtual environments in a central location and invite participants there to conduct the research. Depending on the client’s needs, the locations are selected to ensure the construction of the sample group is representative of the target population. Because our platform is portable and flexible, we can conduct studies in capital cities or in regional hubs.
SHOPPER360 is fully immersive. When participants are in our virtual retail environments, they behave as if they are in a real store. We record everything they see and do at intervals of 10 times a second (and can record up to 100 times a second). This means we understand their behaviour and what drives their purchase decisions without any extraneous factors, such as researcher bias or non-natural shopping cues, interfering with their behaviour (e.g. sitting in front of a computer and navigating with a mouse or keyboard).
A participant spends between 20 and 40 minutes with us, depending on whether they also participate in the qualitative component of the study.
Sample sizes are determined based on the client’s requirements and the granularity of the analysis. The construction of the sample group is determined by the target population the client is targeting. We work with respected quantitative research partners in each of our geographies, so we deliver robust, statistically valid sample groups that also reflect the local culture and conditions of the market where the study is being conducted.