How to measure consumer behavior

How to measure consumer behavior

Posted by Danique Toenhake on Mon 05 Jul. 2021 - 3 minute read

Measuring consumer behavior enables you to really know your customers and get key insights into consumer preferences and buying behavior. There are several ways how consumer behavior can be measured. We highlight four of these ways for you in this blog post:

  1. Measure eating behaviors and consumers liked and dislikes with facial expressions
  2. Measuring shopping behavior
  3. Testing consumer behavior in a natural environment
  4. Neuromarketing research

How to measure consumer behavior

Measure eating behaviors and consumers likes and dislikes with facial expressions

One way to measure consumer behavior is to record facial expressions of participants, and examine their food preferences.

Food scientist Prof. Susan Duncan from Virginia Tech focuses on sensory evaluation, the way people interact with food and the way their senses capture this reaction. She uses FaceReader to record facial expressions, as they demonstrate how we react to a particular food.



If something smells disgusting, if a weird color makes us feel anxious, or if we like the taste of something: our face can tell, without us being aware of it.

This type of research provides insights in the relationship between emotions, consumer acceptability, and purchase intent, and gives guidance towards food and packaging innovation.









FREE WHITE PAPER: Eye Tracking & FaceReader

Download this white paper to learn about:

  • subconscious processes and emotion recognition
  • combining FaceReader™ and eye tracking
  • visualizing and analyzing your data


Measuring shopping behavior

A spectacles camera, head mounted eye tracker or eye tracking glasses can be used as exploration instruments in a shopping mall. Researchers, and marketers, want to observe how shoppers move through malls and the displays they look at in retail stores.

An eye tracker allows your test participant to move and look around freely, while the researcher gets to see where the test participant is looking at, or is not looking at. This allows you to better understand consumer buying behavior.


mall escalator top view

Another way to measure consumer behavior is by studying the route customers are taking when visiting a store or a supermarket. A specific question supermarket Jan Linders had: ‘Do customers predominantly walk the same (common) route and is it possible to change this most commonly followed route by changing the layout of the supermarket and/or the placement of certain products?’

By using TrackLab, our consultants tracked the movements of customers while they were wearing an ultra-wideband tag on their coat. Based on the outcomes of this research, the supermarket implemented some changes and influenced the products their consumers buy.

Testing consumer behavior in a natural environment

The environment of your test participant has a great influence on the results of experiments. As the traditional example goes: the wine you drink at the French vineyard tastes better than the same wine you drink when you’re back home.

So how can you manipulate the influence of the environment in a sterile laboratory, and simulate a home or restaurant environment? By creating a dedicated experience room!

A simulated environment, with video projected on the walls and background sounds, can change the context of how much we enjoy food.


man woman cooking eating kitchen

You can even create a complete test kitchen, as researchers from Université Paris-Saclay in France did. They concluded that participants behaved quite spontaneously, although they were aware of cameras in the lab. Their paper describes the approach of filming consumers in a controlled yet naturalistic environment.

Neuromarketing research

Get your face read, your brain measured, and your heart rate checked: Neuromarketing lets you dive deeper into the unconscious preferences of consumers and their decision-making processes.

In the field of neuromarketing several different technologies are used to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, outward expressions such as facial expressions, and changes in one's physiological state.

All techniques are aimed at learning more about why consumers make the decisions the way they do, and if a part of the brain is telling them to make these decisions. The better we know how the brain functions, the better we know how to influence decision making processes.









FREE WHITE PAPER: How to build an AV lab

Do you want to learn more how to set up an AV lab? Read on for the perfect tips & tricks!

  • Which requirements do you need?
  • What equipment is needed?
  • Download this free 'how to' guide!


Would you like to learn more about measuring consumer behavior?

Find more information about tools for research on consumer behavior research or download the free paper 'How to build a consumer lab' which contains practical tips, equipments lists, and much more.

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