meet the new technology transforming shopper research

by: Katherine Savage

Let’s face it, we all judge books by their covers, which is why we invest so much time and resource in nailing our packaging.

The key to getting packaging right lies in testing it in context with real consumers. We’ve heard from clients how difficult the logistics for pack testing can be: expensive mock-ups, difficulties accessing and replicating real in-store set-ups, the list goes on.

So, how can interactive smart walls, like the one used at PLAY MR, transform the way marketers and researchers test packaging, and provide faster, accurate and more cost-effective insights than traditional methods?


Qualitative exploration: a mini story.

In 2018, the insights manager at a large dairy manufacturer came to us with a challenging project: refreshing the pack design of a fragmented range spanning multiple categories. The stakes were high; the brand refresh had to reinvigorate products on shelf whilst minimising the risk of churn (no pun intended). 

The client had multiple designs across dozens of SKUs, so creating physical mock-ups of the pack just wasn’t a viable option. Using a smart wall allowed us to combine the speed, ease and flexibility of a digital shelf mock-up with the “close to life” context of a life-sized shelf display.

Focus groups conducted in front of the smart wall enabled discussions around shopper decision-making, shelf navigation, and pack standout. The wall also allowed moderators to switch between designs in seconds to follow and support the flow of the qualitative exploration. 

New research technology


Using eye tracking for accuracy.

Eye tracking is a great tool for understanding the shopper experience... down to the millisecond! It can be used to measure the effect of changing pack design or shelf-materials on key metrics like 'time-to-find' and 'fixation'.

A smart wall allows for testing using either stand-alone eye tracking equipment or eye tracking glasses, but with greater control over the stimulus than you’d normally get when testing in-store. This is great when you need to ensure that your new pack isn’t going to be lost on the shelf!

Eye tracking new shopper research technology

Bringing the results to life for stakeholders.

A smart wall is also a great way to incorporate the stimulus into any debrief or stakeholder discussion.  

Enabling stakeholders to come face-to-face with potential layouts, materials and pack designs allows them to see their ideas in a new light. Overlaying findings onto the shelf can really bring the results of research to life. Powerful stuff!

Smart wall new technology for shopper research

The new PLAY MR HQ.

In our new Sydney facilities we've dedicated one of our focus group rooms to a screen large enough to show three supermarket bays life size. We also have high-quality shelving for those keen to test physical mock-ups.

Talking of our new focus group rooms, the whole of Sydney HQ is now super flexible!

In our new office space, on top of the holding the largest CLT facility in Australia (yep!) we also have two rooms for focus groups, virtual shops and physical shelves with life-like in-store lighting.

There's even a live stream viewing facility so clients can watch from the comfort of their own homes or, of course, we can host your team here if you fancy a trip to the beaches!


Over to you.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in learning more or even taking a PLAYful tour! We'd love to show you around our suite of new research facilities at Sydney HQ.

Call 02 8097 0200 or email us at today.


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about the author

Katherine Savage

Katherine is PLAY’s account director and resident packaging expert. She started life as a qualitative specialist before becoming a qual-quant researcher. Her 12 years of experience spans across FMCG, retail, tech, media, financial, auto, social, employer, and B2B: she loves diving into new categories and exploring the forces at play. She’s a fan of setting herself arbitrary goals and trying to complete them like translating the first Harry Potter novel from Portuguese (she hasn’t got to Hogwarts – yet!).

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