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Ebay conducts ‘subconscious shopping’ experiment

Online shopping giant Ebay and specialist retailer Saatchi Art have created and tested an experimental retail experience they claim is the world’s first subconscious shopping experience.

It merges art and technology to reveal shoppers’ subconscious desires.


For just 48 hours, the two retailers invited select guests to their personalised shopping event, The Art of Shopping. Guests were first hooked up to headsets incorporating EEG technology to monitor electrical activity in the brain. They then entered a special art gallery where the “mind-tracking” technology, supplied by MyndPlay, was able to detect when they were inspired by particular works, reports Dezeen. This information was used to create personalised shopping carts.


An algorithm to match customers with artworks was developed by behavioural psychologists and designed to be used with the billion items being sold on Ebay’s virtual marketplace.

The Ebay team launched the project after commissioning a report on the neuroscience of what motivates buyers. The report investigated the difference between two types of buyers – “shop-y-cats” who impulse buy to fit in with trends, and “inspired shoppers” who prefer to discover non-mainstream  items.

It found that inspired shoppers could browse longer and had a prolonged emotional high at checkout.

This story first appeared on sister site, Inside Retail Asia.

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