Assistant Professor and Extension Economist Ben Campbell conducts market research and promotes locally grown foods in Connecticut by using an eye tracking technology that can easily indicate to sellers and businesses what consumers are looking at in store displays. Campbell’s eye tracking studies measure the effect of signage and display positioning within the store on the consumer’s attention of Connecticut grown specialty crops. By studying what consumers see while shopping can help promote more demand for locally grown produce.
Campbell’s research proves that store signage and labeling is an important investment for businesses as the eye tracking measures eye movements from the consumer and provides the data in the form of a heat map. The data shows not only where the customer looked, but how long and what held their interest. This advancement in research is especially beneficial in fulfilling the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development mandate to increase locally grown food expenditures to 5% by 2020, which is almost double the current spending level. Campbell also shares his results with children involved with USDA and Connecticut Extension projects by relaying the importance of eating healthy and making good food choices, even if it requires extra effort to look past the candy aisle.
*Portions of this article appeared in Highlights of Research by CANR