There are significant differences between what shoppers see in-store, and what they look at. When someone sees something, they train their eyes on it and the brain then processes information about it. Conversely, what somebody looks at can be defined as something that they fixate upon but which is then filtered and ignored by the brain.
According to J Kalet et al, the human brain only processes 5% of what the eyes see, so it is therefore understandable that getting a mental reaction to a visual image is much harder than most people expect. There are a few exceptions to this of course, as there are some examples of imagery that is more likely to involve a degree of mental processing:
Visual human nudity, distress and other extreme emotions
Strongly contrasting shapes, colours and light
Seeing yourself on a screen or in a mirror
In order to quantify just how important it is for a product in-store to be seen, consider this: there are, on average, over 50,000 lines in a supermarket alone, and hoping to make it as 1 of the mere 100 items in the typical trolley represents an odds against chance of 500/1. Therefore, it is very important for products not only to be looked at but seen.
The magazine sector believed that price was the determining factor when shoppers browsed and chose between gossip titles. However, eye-tracking revealed that price was almost completely ignored. Men were guided by the titles of articles advertised on the cover, whilst women were primarily attracted to other people’s faces. The eye-tracking clip below shows just how shoppers navigate and choose between magazines.