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Eye tracking technology makes debut in horticulture

May 22, 2012  By Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

May 22, 2012, Vineland, Ont – Increasingly used for consumer research in non-agricultural sectors and a variety of disciplines and analyses, eye tracking technology is proving its usefulness at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) with horticulture products.

Dr. Isabelle Lesschaeve, research director for consumer insights and product innovation, and Dr. Ben Campbell, a horticultural economist, are breaking new ground in the application of eye tracking technology to products such as ornamental plants, flowers, wine, fruit and vegetables.

“Eye tracking technology gives a detailed behavioural understanding of what consumers really want opposed to what they say they want, a common challenge with the traditional survey approach,” said Dr. Lesschaeve. “With this technology we are able to see exactly what consumers are looking at during their shopping experience. This information provides valuable insight for growers and retailers into how to develop successful marketing and pricing strategies.”


The first eye tracking program at Vineland is part of a larger ornamental and vegetable plant study that will collect data from consumers at six locations across North America. Collaboration between Vineland, Purdue University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, University of Minnesota and University of Florida will provide information on consumer attitudes, behaviours and demographic characteristics.

For this study, Vineland is specifically concerned with labelling and the display of ornamental and vegetable plants. Information will be gained on where best to put information on a display or label to better attract the consumer’s attention. The study will also determine if consumers in Ontario versus the United States are using different visual cues to purchase an ornamental or vegetable plant.

“Understanding the marketplace and the consumer is essential to building a healthy and sustainable horticulture industry,” said Jim Brandle, CEO of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. “Growers in Canada produce some of the best fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants in the world. Using eye tracking technology will help horticulture businesses focus their marketing strategies and most importantly maximize product value and market share. Vineland is investing in this technology and the related expertise for the long-term.”

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