As we’ve written about before - and continually hear discussed and shared across the research industry - the state of the consumer is changing. Consumers have evolved quite a bit in recent years, and that evolution has been further accelerated in 2020. From how and where they shop, to how they want to connect with their preferred brands and companies, consumers demand to be engaged on their terms.
Effective engagement can mean speed and efficiency, but more often than not it also demands creativity by the insights team. A modern, effective, and creative way to get impactful feedback from consumers is with a heatmap experiment.
A heatmap is a visual storytelling exercise. It organizes data about an image using color-coded zones representing the frequency of activities, interactions, or sentiments.
Historically, heatmaps have been a popular visualization tool with data-driven researchers across industries - including doctors, engineers, psychologists, designers, and of course, market researchers.
Given current consumer trends, it doesn't come as a surprise that heatmaps have been gaining popularity in recent years amongst leading consumer insights researchers. While they remain a key tool in user interface and experience research to assess website effectiveness, their usage in concept and product testing research continues to gain popularity.
Here are five ways you can utilize heatmap techniques in your own research:
Whitespace & Prototype Testing
Exploring white space and prototyping are important initial steps in the product innovation process. If you have some initial ideas or mock-ups for a product, heatmaps can be an important early indicator about which product attributes your potential customers would love, hate, be compelled by, or, just as importantly, be repelled by. Efficient and effective prototype feedback allows for better product refinement earlier in the process, before you even begin building your MVP.
Getting feedback on visual design elements such as fonts, colors, layouts, and imagery is an important step in the research process, and a heatmap experiment is one of the most cost and time efficient ways to do it. Using heatmaps for design testing is one of the most effective methods you can use to identify what works and what doesn’t work in any customer-facing visuals.
Most products go through many iterations of packaging designs prior to launching a final product. Testing various packaging concepts in a heatmap exercise allows you to gain detailed insights into potential customers' preferences surrounding the packaging attributes. Respondents have the opportunity to select and react to design elements, logo placements, packaging types, and other details - allowing you to understand where consumers focus their attention and in what order.
Ad & Message Testing
Your go-to-market messaging and content can either make or break a successful product launch. However, message testing isn’t just about the words themselves - the taglines, logos, and other text in the ad are just as important as the package and product designs.
Using heatmaps, you can test which ad or message garners the most positive or frequent interaction, or which drives more viewers to engage with a Call to Action. Consumers will indicate to researchers where the messaging is catching their attention, if that attention is positive or negative, and why they feel that way.
Even though most of us are primarily shopping online now, the in-store experience should not be left to wayside. Pandemics aside, consumers will continue walking into stores for the foreseeable future. By testing how a consumer responds to different shopping environments, you can understand how to maximize value both for the customer and your brand during in-store shopping experiences.
Of course, the shelf is the critical point in the in-store customer journey. Heatmaps are a great way to understand optimal shelf placement and product combinations that will entice consumers to reach for your products. They can also help with the design of the shelf itself!
These are just five primary examples of how heatmaps can enhance your consumer research to provide visual, data-driven insights. They are a quick, fun way for consumers to provide insights in a survey setting, and make a great addition to any research report.
Start exploring new use cases and research projects with heatmaps! And of course, reach out to the team at SightX to learn more or to get started today.