Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Packaging Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Rupert Andrew Hurley

Committee Member

Dr. Charles Tonkin

Committee Member

Dr. E. Jeffrey Rhodehamel


Understanding how consumers observe and make purchase decisions within a retail context is now both accessible and efficient through the process of eye tracking. Eye tracking package design aesthetics helps us understand and predict what consumers are looking at, and how likely a package might be selected. Typically, this research is conducted in an immersive retail setting where consumers can shop as they would in a normal store-shopping context. A store is stocked with products where a participant in the study shops throughout while wearing an eye tracker to gather data on what their attention fixates on within a given set of shelves. Although a physical store provides the most realistic context, a virtual store could create a more economical, cost effective, and customizable solution for measuring consumer visual attention from packaging design aesthetics.

Beginning with CUshop Consumer Experience Laboratory, a virtual store design and context was established by replicating existing fixtures in CUshopTM. Using the virtual technology available at the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics, a digital replication of CUshopTM was created. This began by 3D modeling the store along with generating the exact content to be displayed using real time rendering software. To investigate the process of measuring consumer attention in each environment, the same study was conducted in both stores looking at shelf performance of eleven different barbecue sauce brands. Gaze data, travel time, purchase decision and presence survey scores from a modified Witmer-Singer survey helped demonstrate the feasibility of gathering valid results from a virtual store context.

Results indicated that there was not enough evidence to prove a comparison between the physical and virtual store experiments. Presence scores also did not indicate significant differences between either store environments. Analysis suggests that with a larger participant population and more immersive hardware, such as head mounted displays, eye tracking in virtual stores could be a valid process to complement studies already being conducted in real store contexts.



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