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How to (not) nudge customers? Methodological insights from a situated eye-tracking study on the intrusiveness of a location-based shopping assistant in a supermarket

Stephanie Van Hove (UGent) , Anissa All (UGent) and Lieven De Marez (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Since 77% of mobile device users enable location services when asked by an app, context awareness is becoming a key feature of mobile applications (In The Pocket, 2016). Therefore, the contextual dimension of mobile devices is a popular subject of research for studying the potential of location-based advertising (LBA) (Hühn et al., 2012). As communication technologies evolve, ads will increasingly appear at “unexpected intervals or in nontraditional settings” (Li & Edwards, 2002, p. 39). Extant research has found that context incongruent ads attract more attention and are perceived more intrusive (Edwards, Li, & Lee, 2002; Hühn et al., 2012; Li & Edwards, 2002; Simola, Kivikangas, Kuisma, & Krause, 2013). Since the theoretical concept of intrusiveness has largely been investigated with regard to editorial content (Simola et al., 2013), this study aims to explore the intrusiveness of location-based ads in a retail context, while validating a future shopping cart prototype. However, it remains challenging to capture the context in innovation research, since some technologies have not reached maturity to be implemented in a real-life context and the imagination of users is limited. As a result, user evaluation is usually only executed at the end of the innovation process resulting in incremental changes. Moreover few methodologies facilitate user evaluation in a controlled and repeatable context that ensures ecological validity (Neill, Lewis, Mcglinn, & Dobson, 2007). These methodological flaws in combination with increasing attention devoted to user experience (Rebelo, Noriega, Duarte, & Soares, 2012), mitigates new methodologies to capture user experience with context-aware mobile applications that goes further than “usability and task-oriented instrumental values” (Hassenzahl, 2005). This study is part of a two-year research project that aims to develop accurate and scalable use cases for the future shopping cart that tracks in real-time the position of the customer. One of its main goals is to meet the actual and relevant user needs and tackle their frustrations to enhance their shopping experience. The current prototype, e.i., a tablet attached to a context-aware shopping cart, was tested in a real Flemish supermarket with seventeen participants (twelve males, age 24 to 59). Drawing on observations using eye-tracking and an evaluative interview afterward, this study will add to the current understanding of shoppers’ perceived ad intrusiveness and in-store experiences, besides improving the prototype interactions. Fourteen context-congruent ads were pushed to the shopping cart screen during the situational evaluation. During the evaluative interview, we qualitatively probed ad intrusiveness. Eye-tracking data in combination with participant behavior showed that customers were most frustrated if they did not find the needed product when nearby the product category. This area of interest was characterized by the highest number of saccades, desperate hand movements and sighs. The majority of the participants perceived the ads as intrusive, because of the pop-up ad frequency as well as its lack of personalization. This ad intrusiveness was also impacted by the temporal organization of multiple activities on the shopping cart screen since the key features of the prototype should not overlap one another (e.i., shopping list, navigational directions and advertisements). For example, participants were confused once the context-congruent ads substituted the navigational instructions. Subsequently, researchers and stakeholders have underestimated the social component of a shopping experience considering that the participants perceived the shopping assistant as too intrusive by the participants. They missed out on social interactions with other customers and store employees due to the demanding interactions with the shopping cart screen. Moreover, customers are not willing to interact with screens in a supermarket, nor searching for their product in a digital catalog of products. In three out of ten screen fixations (M = 31.46%, SD = 8.68%), participants were interacting (e.i., tapping or swiping) with the shopping cart screen. Hence, participants perceived the shopping cart prototype as too intrusive because of its required interactions and embedded advertisements. This study draws upon an emerging interest to implement eye-tracking in situated user experience research. Quantitative eye-tracking data in conjunction with user behavior and a debriefing explains what users looked at and why (Bergstrom & Schall, 2014). The early contextual evaluation of the concept leads to better matching with the needs of users and designers. In doing this, we improved the users’ ability to imagine the interaction with the prototype, afterward designers are still able to conduct major changes in the prototype in order to gain competitive advantages (Neill et al., 2007). Hence, since context enhancement is inherent to mobile applications, we argue that context, either being real or virtual, should be included as a vast part of innovation processes of context-aware technologies.

Citation

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MLA
Van Hove, Stephanie, Anissa All, and Lieven De Marez. “How to (not) Nudge Customers? Methodological Insights from a Situated Eye-tracking Study on the Intrusiveness of a Location-based Shopping Assistant in a Supermarket.” Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschap. 2018. Print.
APA
Van Hove, S., All, A., & De Marez, L. (2018). How to (not) nudge customers? Methodological insights from a situated eye-tracking study on the intrusiveness of a location-based shopping assistant in a supermarket. Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap. Presented at the Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap.
Chicago author-date
Van Hove, Stephanie, Anissa All, and Lieven De Marez. 2018. “How to (not) Nudge Customers? Methodological Insights from a Situated Eye-tracking Study on the Intrusiveness of a Location-based Shopping Assistant in a Supermarket.” In Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschap.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Hove, Stephanie, Anissa All, and Lieven De Marez. 2018. “How to (not) Nudge Customers? Methodological Insights from a Situated Eye-tracking Study on the Intrusiveness of a Location-based Shopping Assistant in a Supermarket.” In Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschap.
Vancouver
1.
Van Hove S, All A, De Marez L. How to (not) nudge customers? Methodological insights from a situated eye-tracking study on the intrusiveness of a location-based shopping assistant in a supermarket. Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap. 2018.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Hove, A. All, and L. De Marez, “How to (not) nudge customers? Methodological insights from a situated eye-tracking study on the intrusiveness of a location-based shopping assistant in a supermarket,” in Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap, Gent, 2018.
@inproceedings{8549409,
  abstract     = {Since 77% of mobile device users enable location services when asked by an app, context awareness is becoming a key feature of mobile applications (In The Pocket, 2016). Therefore, the contextual dimension of mobile devices is a popular subject of research for studying the potential of location-based advertising (LBA) (Hühn et al., 2012). As communication technologies evolve, ads will increasingly appear at “unexpected intervals or in nontraditional settings” (Li & Edwards, 2002, p. 39). Extant research has found that context incongruent ads attract more attention and are perceived more intrusive (Edwards, Li, & Lee, 2002; Hühn et al., 2012; Li & Edwards, 2002; Simola, Kivikangas, Kuisma, & Krause, 2013). Since the theoretical concept of intrusiveness has largely been investigated with regard to editorial content (Simola et al., 2013), this study aims to explore the intrusiveness of location-based ads in a retail context, while validating a future shopping cart prototype. 

However, it remains challenging to capture the context in innovation research, since some technologies have not reached maturity to be implemented in a real-life context and the imagination of users is limited. As a result, user evaluation is usually only executed at the end of the innovation process resulting in incremental changes. Moreover few methodologies facilitate user evaluation in a controlled and repeatable context that ensures ecological validity (Neill, Lewis, Mcglinn, & Dobson, 2007). These methodological flaws in combination with increasing attention devoted to user experience (Rebelo, Noriega, Duarte, & Soares, 2012), mitigates new methodologies to capture user experience with context-aware mobile applications that goes further than “usability and task-oriented instrumental values” (Hassenzahl, 2005).

This study is part of a two-year research project that aims to develop accurate and scalable use cases for the future shopping cart that tracks in real-time the position of the customer. One of its main goals is to meet the actual and relevant user needs and tackle their frustrations to enhance their shopping experience. The current prototype, e.i., a tablet attached to a context-aware shopping cart, was tested in a real Flemish supermarket with seventeen participants (twelve males, age 24 to 59). Drawing on observations using eye-tracking and an evaluative interview afterward, this study will add to the current understanding of shoppers’ perceived ad intrusiveness and in-store experiences, besides improving the prototype interactions. Fourteen context-congruent ads were pushed to the shopping cart screen during the situational evaluation. During the evaluative interview, we qualitatively probed ad intrusiveness.

Eye-tracking data in combination with participant behavior showed that customers were most frustrated if they did not find the needed product when nearby the product category. This area of interest was characterized by the highest number of saccades, desperate hand movements and sighs. The majority of the participants perceived the ads as intrusive, because of the pop-up ad frequency as well as its lack of personalization. This ad intrusiveness was also impacted by the temporal organization of multiple activities on the shopping cart screen since the key features of the prototype should not overlap one another (e.i., shopping list, navigational directions and advertisements). For example, participants were confused once the context-congruent ads substituted the navigational instructions. Subsequently, researchers and stakeholders have underestimated the social component of a shopping experience considering that the participants perceived the shopping assistant as too intrusive by the participants. They missed out on social interactions with other customers and store employees due to the demanding interactions with the shopping cart screen. Moreover, customers are not willing to interact with screens in a supermarket, nor searching for their product in a digital catalog of products. In three out of ten screen fixations (M = 31.46%, SD = 8.68%), participants were interacting (e.i., tapping or swiping) with the shopping cart screen. Hence, participants perceived the shopping cart prototype as too intrusive because of its required interactions and embedded advertisements. 

This study draws upon an emerging interest to implement eye-tracking in situated user experience research. Quantitative eye-tracking data in conjunction with user behavior and a debriefing explains what users looked at and why (Bergstrom & Schall, 2014). The early contextual evaluation of the concept leads to better matching with the needs of users and designers. In doing this, we improved the users’ ability to imagine the interaction with the prototype, afterward designers are still able to conduct major changes in the prototype in order to gain competitive advantages (Neill et al., 2007). Hence, since context enhancement is inherent to mobile applications, we argue that context, either being real or virtual, should be included as a vast part of innovation processes of context-aware technologies.},
  author       = {Van Hove, Stephanie and All, Anissa and De Marez, Lieven},
  booktitle    = {Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap},
  location     = {Gent},
  title        = {How to (not) nudge customers? Methodological insights from a situated eye-tracking study on the intrusiveness of a location-based shopping assistant in a supermarket},
  url          = {https://etmaal2018.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/conference-programme-etmaal2018_update-32.pdf},
  year         = {2018},
}