MSU Professor studies how emotion is tied to shopping

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– While for years marketing research has traditionally relied on group surveys or a shopper’s self-reporting, MSU Professor, Rebecca Rast, says these methods don’t tell the whole story.

Rast uses facial expression analysis to gauge a shopper’s emotional experience.

By using this kind of face-reading technology (called iMotions), Rast says businesses can capture consumers’ emotions in real-time.

The software can measure seven core emotions: joy, anger, fear, disgust, contempt, sadness and surprise.

Some combination of those emotions must’ve been felt by Graduate Assistant Rebecca Sauchanek, who took time to participate in an iMotion test while Ozarks First reporters visited Rast’s marketing lab.

“It’s important for marketers to understand what draws in the consumers,” Sauchanek said after letting iMotion read her face as she watched a short advertisement.

“Watching that video, I feel like since I’m such a dog person, I wasn’t drawn in by it but if I was a cat person they’d really be interested in the video.”

And that kind of intimate knowledge of the people marketers are trying to reach is exactly the kind of edge Rast is hoping her research will someday provide.

It is, after all, some kind of emotion that will drive hoards of people to shop this holiday season.

Rast said this technology can be used beyond the marketing realm, saying medical professionals who practice telemedicine can also use it as a way to better indicate a patient’s emotions.

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