New Research Validates VR and Neuroscience as Effective Retail Design Tools

Immersive design agency Shikatani Lacroix Design (SLD) and Chinese strategic innovation and branding consultancy MetaThink have proven the effectiveness of combining neuroscience and virtual reality to test consumers’ emotional responses to a virtual retail environment by recording the same consumer responses to the physical one.

A world first, this research validates the use of VR and neuroscience as an effective method of prototyping, potentially saving retailers millions of dollars before physical environments are built.

Last spring, SLD pioneered the use of neuroscience with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to revolutionize retail and packaging design.

“Our intention was to merge these technologies to produce consistent and reliable data that we can translate into actionable strategies for our clients and potentially save them money in the process,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, President of SLD.

The result is a groundbreaking approach that marries Microsoft HoloLens and Samsung VR headgear with electroencephalogram (EEG) neuroscience equipment to decipher consumer preferences through emotion.

In its second phase of research, SLD partnered with MetaThink to test the design of the agencies’ new flagship branch concept for China Zheshang Bank in Beijing. Using an EEG sensors, SLD tested consumers’ experience of its VR rendering of the branch and then tested those same subjects in the physical branch environment. To test the VR environment, the subjects wore EEG and Oculus Rift VR headgear. While walking through the actual bank branch, the participants wore the same neuroscience EEG headgear, in addition to eye tracking goggles that allowed SLD’s research team to track what participants were looking at throughout the entire test.

The emotional responses measured by the EEG were indistinguishable between the two experiences, indicating that virtual reality and neuroscience are effective tools in evaluating concepts without investing in physical prototyping.

“This innovation has the potential to save retailers millions of dollars by allowing for varied, agile design concepts that can be strategically and reliably tested,” says Jean-Pierre Lacroix, “replacing the need for physical prototypes.”