Posted by Dr Charles Nduka.

The Reality of Virtual Market Research

This is the second part in a three part series of blog posts focussing on the latest trend in Market Research.

VR and immersive experiences are slowly becoming more popular, high unit prices and a lack of compelling content have contributed to this slow uptake. However, adoption of VR for market research is increasing faster than for gaming, entertainment, or education.

When you picture market research from 20 years ago, you imagine focus groups crowded in a room, discussing a product by reviewing pictures or video. Amongst other issues relating to memory and the ability to experience something, this method of market research is largely unstimulating for the group. Using questionnaires and interviews for market research is subject to bias and often fails to capture the emotions that were felt at the time. VR brings a fresh angle to market research by immersing people into the product they are exploring. As opposed to looking at images of a car prototype, VR can be used to literally put people in the driving seat – or at least feel as though they are. This allows for better feedback and a more well-rounded exploration of the potential issues that may arise when it comes to manufacturing and selling the product.

Unfortunately, measuring feedback in VR still has its issues. While individuals are able to get a deeper understanding of the product – and potentially use it virtually – they still find it difficult to give an accurate account of their feelings towards the product. As humans, we inherently want to please others around us, and therefore tend not to give honest feedback if we think it might offend. Likewise, the VR experience can be overwhelming, and people may focus more on being part of a virtual reality than how they are feeling about the product. Facial expressions are usually a great method of measuring emotional response – but with VR, you are wearing a headset that covers most of your face, making it hard to assess if someone is smiling, laughing or frowning. 

However, there is an answer to this problem. At Emteq we are passionate about understanding human emotions through valence and arousal. We have created an insert for VR head mounted displays, allowing for high accuracy monitoring of facial expressions and hearth rate. This provides market researchers with an in-depth understanding of how people react emotionally to their experience, leading to better quality feedback, and actionable insight. 

In the 3rd part: Monitoring Emotional Response in VR