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From theory to practice: the Master’s in Marketing Analytics students analyse their own behaviour as consumers

Understanding consumer behaviour is key to marketing decision-making. Master’s in Marketing Analytics students had the opportunity to experience the Vampire effect and the realities of a focus group first-hand.

Reading time :
4 Nov 2022
Eye tracking exercice for MSc in Marketing Analytics studenys- Sigma Lab - EDHEC


We learn by doing

Aristotle stated: “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” That’s exactly why Pr Arash Talebi and Pr Ivan Gordeliy, both assistant professors of marketing at EDHEC Business School, took the Master’s in Marketing Analytics students to the latest addition to EDHEC’s research facilities, the Sigma Lab. The students experienced focus groups and eye tracking first-hand.   

The Sigma Lab's state-of-the-art equipment enables students and professors to conduct experiments and run focus groups. The lab allows researchers to employ several types of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a wide range of disciplines - management, marketing, behavioral finance, etc. Designed to tackle real-world problems, the Sigma lab enables researchers to propose innovative solutions to companies.


In the Sigma lab

Facing a computer equipped with a high-quality camera, each student was invited to look at a few selected marketing ads. The eye tracking system followed their eye movements and generated quantitative and qualitative data that describes what the student was looking at, at any given time. Analysing that data provides a way to investigate if an ad is well designed to convey a brand’s messaging. “Sometimes too much creativity in an ad prevents the consumers from seeing the brand’s message. It is what we call the Vampire effect. It draws the attention of the consumers away from the brand to an attractive, yet unrelated, story going on in the ad”, explained Pr Talebi.  Yiyang Zhao, one of the students was impressed by the experiment. “Consumers won’t tell you what they looked at or they will just forget. The eye-tracking tool makes it easier to track and understand the consumers’ response to an ad. Experiencing it ourselves helped us realise that sometimes, an ad looks very good, and is very creative when we first look at it, but then we realise that the consumer does not notice the brand or the product… instead, focuses on the actors… and misses the target.”

The students also experienced focus groups wherein they had the opportunity to be a member of a research team as an observer or as a facilitator of a focus group. Then each student played the role of a participant of a focus group discussion. Pr Ivan Gordeliy gave the students who exercised the role of a member of the research team a few recommendations before the start: “Don’t ask the questions directly, converge towards the topic. When you are the facilitator, do not engage in the discussion. Create opportunities for everyone to participate without forcing anyone. Do not forget that focus groups model a natural social interaction”. The Sigma lab facilities offer an observation room equipped with a one-way mirror with a direct view on the focus group room. Additionally, the live feed of four cameras installed in the focus group room is projected on a large screen in the observation room. Asked by students if the cameras will bother the participants, Prof. Gordeliy responded that participants tend to forget the presence of the cameras very quickly.  Inès Melo had learned the theory around focus groups but had never participated in one. “It was interesting to see both sides, being a participant and part of the research team. I enjoyed seeing the environment and I hope to be able to conduct focus groups someday soon relying on the Sigma lab facilities. The experiment made me realise that it is not so easy to lead a focus group, to get everyone to talk, gather useful answers for the project… Seeing theories in action and seeing the results are important. It really gave us a sense of what it is really like.” To Anya Rahmoune, the experience will be even more concrete as she plans to run a focus group for her master’s project by using the Sigma lab.

The experience allowed students to have their first glimpse at both quantitative and qualitative research that can be conducted at the Sigma lab.

Students experiment focus group activities


Discover the MSc in Marketing Analytics programme

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