Designing products using biometrics


Sure, Big Companies employ old-school focus groups to help them understand what consumers gravitate to in package design. How many folks passed around the Tide Pods container in a conference room while people in white lab coats took notes?

But we're living in the Age of Technology! We use intel from cameras tracking eye movements as test subjects stare at computer screens to design websites. And emotion-tracking technology can capture every detail of a consumer's experience with a package. We measure heartbeats, watch brain activity, and analyze facial expressions. And let's be honest, good packaging elicits an emotional response. I've bought way too many products based on the packaging alone to convince myself otherwise.

But wait a minute. Do we need all that tech? Can't we simply deploy surveys, questionnaires, and interviews to measure how people think and feel about things?

Sure, we can. And do. But there's a wider margin for error when humans are involved. The trouble with anecdotal responses is that participants may not be as honest as you'd like them to be. Not that they would purposefully lie, but any sociologist worth their salt will tell you there's a whole host of peccadillos at play when dealing with humans. They might want only to say positive things (or negative if they're "that guy.")

But with biometric research, it's all science.

Eye-tracking glasses make it possible to see where a consumer's eyes travel when deciding to purchase one item over another. You can measure how long they looked at a particular detail or how long it took them to read a line of copy (or if they did, indeed, read that line of copy.) All of which help pinpoint which elements of a package design are working and which aren't.

A recent study at Clemson University used facial analysis software to study the effect of label colors on the taste of kombucha tea. The participants sampled the kombucha placed in front of bottles bearing different colored labels. While the survey data generally reported positive flavor experiences, facial analysis software revealed that some colors elicited more negative experiences after tasting.

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