The last 5 years in market research have seen a transformational use of technology. From virtual reality panels to Facebook polling, the tools and techniques to get to the truth of what respondents really think and feel. Biometrics is a new buzzword in the industry, but what does it really offer above other innovations in market research?

Populus recently conducted the world’s first ever in-home biometric study of a live event, on behalf of Formula 1, and here is what we learnt about the benefits of using biometrics in market research.

  1. Using biometrics removes the need for respondent participation

It might sound counter intuitive at first, but taking the respondent out of the research entirely can result in unfiltered research. Respondents simply adjust the biometric sensor on their finger tips, sit back, and enjoy the show. The natural feedback mechanism of the biometric sensors do not require active engagement with the equipment so give a clear indication on natural behaviour (it merely sits in the palm of the hand so does not interfere with normal activity). The fact that there are no wires and respondents can sit in their own home, in their natural environment, simply watching the TV as they would normally means we can be sure reactions are true to life.

  1. It taps into people’s innermost reactions

Biometrics effectively measures the automatic nervous system. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measures how the autonomic nervous system responds to timely stimuli– the larger emotional load of the content the higher perspiration activity is. Our GSR signals are taken from the palm of the hand which happens to be one of the best regions on the human body for these physiological signals. It gets under the skin, quite literally, of what respondents are feeling.

  1. It can be translated into real-time, second-by-second basis data

At the backend, the data received is automatically analyzed through state-of-the-art algorithms and the emotional impact reports are generated within an interactive dashboard – allowing you to see results on a second-by-second basis via a biometric traceline.

  1. It offers the bigger picture

This large data sets can then be analysed to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to human behaviour allowing clients to uncover areas of optimisation at a micro level– so in F1’s case as well as looking at peaks and dips in engagement across the race, they could also explore what unique camera angles are most engaging, what type of commentary has a positive impact, how & when team radio can be best utilised and the decay effect of using replays. These learnings can be used to ensure future broadcasting formats are tailored to truly deliver on what grabs and holds the attention of viewer over the course of the race.

  1. It removes the presence of post-rationalism

Using biometrics in market research allows researchers to capture and track the implicit emotional journeys that we all go on, whenever we consume media. People often fail to adequately articulate how they feel easily and therefore asking them will often result in rational responses. The best way to understand people’s emotional response to something is to capture it passively, in-the-moment, and remove the possibility for bias and a reliance on post-rationalism.