Visual Attention in Virtual Reality Settings: An Abstract
Virtual reality, VR, is challenging marketers to understand both brand interaction and the customer experience at the point of sale. In order to test the usefulness of VR in retailing, research must address how the customer’s visual attention in a VR setting affects his/her behavior. There are two main drivers for this research. First, there has been an enormous growth in recent years in the use of neurophysiological methods to measure visual attention. At the store level, previous works show that attention to products measured through eye tracking influences consumer decision. Second, VR is being increasingly adopted by brands, but research is lacking into comparisons between VR formats. We aim to compare visual attention during two consecutive tasks related to shopping behaviors in a VR retail environment. Thus, we integrate neurophysiological measurement of attention and VR.
Our research goals are to compare visual attention and time spent looking at products and to measure the sense of presence evoked by the VR experience. To do so, a virtual representation of a set of supermarket shelves was created. The procedure consisted of a single-factor experiment of 2 VR immersive formats: a desktop monitor and virtual reality head-mounted display glasses. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the two formats. Data were gathered from 100 participants exposed to one of the two scenarios: using head-mounted display glasses, HTC Vive, with Tobii Pro VR eye tracking integrated directly into the glasses, and Tobii TX 300 for tracking visual attention through the monitor. Participants completed two consecutive tasks: a search for a given brand and a search for any brand in a given category. The data were complemented by a questionnaire to measure sense of presence and recall of stimuli.
Our findings suggest that sense of presence is high in both VR scenarios, which shows that participants perceive a high level of realism; visual attention given to products through a desktop monitor and head-mounted glasses was not significantly different but varies by task, with more time spent on the two tasks when wearing the HTC Vive glasses than with the monitor.
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