Thanks to the rise of empowered consumers, products and experiences that once seemed improbable, such as (literally) instant delivery, are now integral to our lives. But this era of innovation has also seen its fair share of flops: From Pokémon Go to Google Glass, technologies that looked like promising disrupters stalled quickly or generated more buzz than actual consumer usage. With waves of potentially amazing technologies on the horizon, how can business leaders accurately anticipate consumer reaction?

I explore this question in my latest report, co-authored with my colleague Juan Salazar. Spoiler alert: Our research found that measuring emotion is critical to understanding and anticipating emerging technology usage — more than demographics, stated attitudes, or sentiment.

For example, Forrester Data’s Consumer Technographics® insights reveal that one-third of US online adults already say they’re interested in using a virtual reality headset, and these consumers don’t fit the standard early-adopter profile: 13% are 55 or older, and 41% have a household income below $50,000. But data from Forrester’s Emotion Evaluator, our newest algorithm that passively measures the emotions that consumers express when using the technology, detects the emotional fluctuations that drive behavior:

A detailed emotions analysis adds a layer of predictive insight because, unlike blunt tools like demographics, attitudes, and intention, emotions are fundamental drivers of our decision making, spark unique behavioral outcomes, and are “nudgeable,” as they can draw consumers into a brand’s experience. As Juan and I note in our report, “Evolving market research tools and methodologies to capture granular consumer emotions not only helps insights professionals predict widespread behavior change, but also allows them to iterate their product design and drive stickiness in a world of constant innovation.”

To read the full explanation of why tracking emotions is critical to predicting product adoption and to discover what Forrester’s Emotion Evaluator indicates about consumers’ response to virtual reality, please find the research report here. If you’re not a data client, please email to gain access or learn more.