Three ways to understand consumer emotions

Three ways to understand consumer emotions

Posted by Annelies Querner-Verkerk on Thu 03 Dec. 2020 - 3 minute read

Many companies are seeking ways to understand consumer emotions in order to predict product acceptability. Here are three ways you could set up your study to assess consumer emotions.

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1. Multi-sensory research

In order to understand consumer emotions, you can use a variety of different technologies. In one recent project, a company claimed to have developed shampoo and hair serum (PIVOINE range, KLORANE) that would have superior relaxing effects. However, they wanted (and according to EU law, needed) proof!

Understanding emotions

Using the Noldus toolkit (which has behavioral metrics along with physiological measurements such as blood pressure, electro-dermal activity, and heart rate) together with the customer, we found out that the relaxing shampoo and serum both had physiological and behavioral effects that pointed to relaxation. The serum had an impact on blood pressure and heart rate, and the shampoo had an impact on EDA and heartbeat intervals.

The relaxing shampoo and serum have been on the market since April 2017, with a claim backed up by scientific data.

Check out the poster about this study for more information!


woman in shower washing hair shampoo

2. Automatic facial expression analysis

Another way to assess emotions would be to look at the face. Researchers from Mississippi State University and Virginia Tech, USA explain that the food industry is looking to use implicit measurements to differentiate acceptability of products in the marketplace, and that automated facial expression analysis is a prospective analysis for product acceptability.

Validation of facial expression analysis software

They invited 65 participants to their study and recorded their facial expressions during the experiment. These videos were analyzed frame-by-frame using FaceReader software batch analysis. In this experiment, bitter drinks (distilled water with caffeine) were used to determine and validate automatic facial expression analysis. 

The published work shows that a time series analysis is a promising tool for interpreting emotional trends of a population. They explain that time series analysis provided a more holistic picture of the emotional changes and presence over time, and can provide a view of the profile elicited by products.









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The role of sensory evaluation

In the video below, Dr. Susan Duncan explains more about another study of hers. In this project the research team aimed to characterize the relationship between emotions, consumer acceptability, and purchase intent towards milk packaging. The facial expression analysis data provided evidence of significant differences in emotion intensity.



3. In-home observations

Nestle Research Center in France aimed to understand consumers’ satisfaction levels while interacting with a packaged food in their homes. Were they happy with their purchase, and what was the greatest factor in determining their satisfaction?

A total of 64 consumers participated in this study. They were willing to buy and try the commercial packaged food chosen in this study. All consumers provided self-recorded videos while interacting with the packaging at home, from the unpacking stage through food preparation.


man woman cooking eating kitchen

Coding videos

Researchers from Nestle worked together with Noldus consultants to code behaviors of interest. The analysis showed that specific behaviors occurring during food unpacking and food preparation impacted overall user satisfaction, but explicit questionnaire assessment did not significantly contribute to explain overall satisfaction.

The next step

So, in addition to facial expressions and physiological data, video observations can also give you a wealth of information. Eye tracking is also ideal to follow the gaze of a consumer. It allows you to better answer questions like, “What attracts people’s attention?” and “What is the most convincing product visualization?”

Furthermore, using eye tracking glasses you can also follow consumers in a supermarket or at home to see how they walk through a shop or how they use your product in their own kitchen.
By combining different measurement techniques, you can get the best insights into consumer emotions and preference.


If you are interested in learning more, you can also visit us at the 9th European Conference on Sensory and Consumer Research (Eurosense 2020) on 13-16 December, 2020. Experience this interactive conference direct from your desktop or mobile device and meet Noldus in the virtual booth








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