A Massey University PhD student is hoping to spin his thesis on virtual reality into market research gold. Alex Schnack started a stock standard marketing doctoral thesis in Palmerston North two years ago, examining the effectiveness of product packaging.

The only affordable way to do that for a student was consumer surveys, but he soon ran into a familiar problem. People lie, they tell the researcher what they think is the right answer, or what makes them look good.

His solution was to use virtual reality headsets, to put people in a virtual store where every conceivable combination of packaging and shelving could be tried with little extra cost. Airships for tourism could soon be the next big thing
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Manawatū students want to take their innovative business plans into the real world Schnack was surprised to find little evidence of anyone doing that already, and set out to be one of the first in New Zealand to offer it as a commercial service to retailers.

He had known first-hand how unreliable consumer survey were from doing research with non-profit organisations back home in Germany. “Everybody I asked said ‘yeah, I definitely give to charity, and would donate to this organisation’.

“But when you looked at the actual rate of donations, it definitely wasn’t 100 per cent of people.” The trouble was, the only other option to gather information on consumer behaviour is to set up in-store trials which can cost thousands if not millions of dollars, he said. Read more from stuff.co.nz…

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