Eye tracking in Manila’s wet market VS supermarket

Objective have been conducting researches in many different environments and context including websites, mobile and tablet applications, TV experience, merchandise, shopping experience in a supermarket, and driving experience.

Now, how about conducting research in a wet market and supermarket?

Wet markets are commonly known as the place to get freshest and cheapest produce. Having been to wet markets in Singapore, the wet market I went to in Manila is definitely different.

1 Manila’s local wet market

To conduct the shopper research in the wet market in Manila, we used a pair of Tobii eye-tracking glasses to uncover the objective:

How do shoppers react to the point-of-sale materials (POSMs) in a wet market?

In this example, I am referring to typical shoppers purchasing similar dry products in a wet market versus purchasing them in a supermarket.

How do typical shoppers shop?

In the wet market
Shoppers walk into a wet market with a list of things to purchase, walk up to a store, ask for the product while specifying the brand.

Store owners bring the items from the back of the store, specify the price of the item, and wait for payment.

In the supermarket
Shoppers walk into a supermarket with a list of things to purchase, go down the aisles to look for the products, find themselves surrounded by huge selections of similar products. They have the option to pick up the items and make comparisons, come to a decision before they approach the cashier to pay.

Did you realise the difference in the shopping behavior in a wet market versus in a supermarket?

That is the ‘freedom to choose and interact from a wide range of brands for similar products’.

With the above points being said, this may be a piece of bad news to the marketing departments handling marketing collaterals for wet markets as shoppers will not be exposed to any other products, not to mention trying a new product.

In a wet market context, shoppers are very dependent on the store owner. With the setting of a typical store in a wet market, shoppers will not be able to understand the layout of the products in the store as they have no access to it, and the items are usually categorized according to the preference of the store owner. So, shoppers would usually have a specific product in mind before they approach a store and would expect the store owner to bring the item to them.

In a supermarket, shoppers do not rely on the staff to help them retrieve the products. Shoppers are expected to be independent and are more likely to walk around to explore different possibilities as compared to the shoppers who only shop in a wet market.

However, it does not mean that there is not a chance where the shoppers will request to see a new product lying on a shelf. But, the shoppers in a wet market are likely to feel embarrassed and obliged to purchase if the store owner has to make a few trips for their discovering process.

The discovering process of the products is usually done in the supermarket where the shoppers are able to take their time to pick up and compare the products without feeling embarrassed or obligated to purchase the product immediately.

A participant in a local wet market

A participant making purchase in supermarket

In Manila, most shoppers split their shopping trip into two parts.

  1. Main trip – usually done early in the morning, a trip that they purchase most of the items they need for the day.
  2. Top-up trip – only needed when there is a shortage or when they need to get fresh necessities like seafood or perishable items.

During the main trip, shoppers tend to spend more time walking around and making comparisons. However, during a top-up trip, shoppers are task-oriented and do not explore or make discoveries as much as their main trip, resulting in overlooking the POSMs available in the shop.

Results from the eye-tracking study showed that shoppers tend to be more attracted to words that indicated savings to them (e.g. buy 1 get 1 free, 20% more, etc.) which is usually found on the product packaging. In this case, experienced shoppers like housewives were attracted to promotion contents that suggested ‘savings’ to them.

As the POSMs were either placed above eye level or has inevitably blended into the background of the shelves, this resulted in participants taking little notice of the POSMs.

wetmarket_phillipinesTo conclude, out-of-home advertising though challenging, can still be achieved by ensuring that the advertisement is relevant only where it is applicable to the environment that it is placed within. However, it will be counter intuitive if it blends into the environment itself. Innovative advertising that is designed to be striking can still catch the customers’ attention in an otherwise chaotic environment like the wet market.

Working with Objective Asia was a very enriching experience. It was the first time that our company was able to utilize the technology of Tobii Eyetracker for a Shopper Study, and I think things went well considerably it was fairly simple to use, and easy to understand. It provided great insights in what people really do look at, without the bias of recalled claims. It was objective, clear, manageable, and really interesting!”
Daryl Santos

PK Yeo

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