____ Posted Tuesday September 12, 2017 ____

Technology & Marketing

Eye Tracking the Toyota Car Buying Experience

New study reveals how generational differences and the layout of a showroom influence car buyers

Touring the showroom in an automobile dealership is one of the most important parts of the car-buying process. The ability to engage a vehicle in person in all its dimensions is often the tipping point for cementing a purchase. To better understand the influence these spaces have in the car-buying experience, eye tracking provider Tobii Pro partnered with Dx3 Canada and Toyota Canada to measure the car buyer's journey in a showroom.

The results: car brands only have a 20-second window to influence a consumer's opinion, and, within that window, not everything from the showroom is going to have an effect.

Here are the key findings:

• The vehicles were the star attraction, capturing more attention than touch screens, brand ambassadors, or any other test area element; participants spent about 30 seconds on average viewing the interior and exterior of the vehicles.

• The insides of the vehicles were viewed most carefully, especially the consoles, gear shift, and instrumentation, which accounted for close to 70 percent of consumer attention. While walking around the outside, consumer eyes were focused primarily on the vehicles' side body lines and aesthetic features.

• Millennial shoppers tended to review the same material and features as older shoppers; however, older shoppers spent more time with almost all elements of the study environment. Millennials gravitated to the interactive displays, while older shoppers viewed the textual elements of the display with greater attention.

• All promotional materials and features were seen; they captured attention but not long enough to have a significant impact. Conversely, digital screens and interactive displays had a high level of engagement and were the real eye-catchers, capturing approximately 50 percent of all attention to showroom promotional elements.

• Informational materials don't have to be that sophisticated, but they do need to be well positioned. Among the most viewed features was a freestanding "Safety Tower" with creative collateral highlighting key safety features of the vehicles. The Tower was central and upfront in the showroom, generating increased engagement from consumers.

"When it comes to attention, brands often overestimate the level of consumer engagement that they have to work with," said Mike Bartels, senior research director at Tobii Pro Insight. "Consumers start with a broad scan of what is out there, but then they zero in on specific things to the exclusion of everything else. In this all-or-nothing, high-stakes sales environment, it is critical that automotive marketers understand which features influence shoppers to buy and how the showroom can be optimized to make them commit. Through eye tracking, we objectively determined what registered with potential buyers, both young and old."

How the study was conducted:

Eye tracking research experts from Tobii Pro Insight fitted 92 study participants with Tobii Pro Glasses 2, a wearable eye tracker, and asked them to explore Toyota's interactive automotive showroom at the Dx3 conference as they would normally do when shopping for a car. The showroom included a Corolla and a RAV4 surrounded by a variety of promotional materials, digital displays, and Toyota brand ambassadors.

The glasses unobtrusively recorded what the consumers paid attention to, for how long they focused on something, and what they ignored, whether that was the vehicle's exterior, under the hood, or a piece of promotional material. The consumers were divided into two groups: millennials and older shoppers. The collected behavioral data was analyzed to understand what elements of the vehicle and marketing materials had the biggest impact on purchase intent.

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