The power of touch has moved beyond an Oprah buzzword. Hospitals are now beginning “cuddlier” programs in light of evidence on improved health outcomes for NICU babies who are massaged. In academia, studies on the sensory experience are announced with record frequency.
savvy brand owners and retailers are profiting from the discovery that one can’t touch
something without being touched. Haptics, the scientific relationship
between touch and emotions and, by extension, purchasing decisions, is
an ever-growing element of marketing platforms.
The Bottom Line: adding a pleasant element of touch to retail packaging, POP displays, gift cards, book jackets, marketing collateral, and just about anything else will help that item appeal in a much more meaningful, human way, which can lead directly to an increase in sales. This is often referred to as neuro-marketing or multisensory marketing.
The relationship between neurological reactions generated by touch and subsequent buying was illustrated perfectly back in 2003 when the
Illinois Office of the Attorney General issued a consumer warning against retail salespeople who would place a product in consumers’ hands, thereby enhancing the likelihood of buying.
Customers who physically hold an object are more likely to envision it as their own and subconsciously assign it a high value. More often than not, this phenomena known as the “endowment effect” leads individuals to open their wallets.
Neurological Reaction to Print
There’s a growing scientific body of evidence on the positive consumer response to touching quality paper products. E-book sales have slumped so far that Mashable termed the device “the next iPod.” As tablet sales have been similarly shrinking, more literature is pointing to the cognitive ease and lower stress levels associated with reading traditional printed books.
That retro vibe is extending to paper as well, where the power of touch is as powerful as ever. Land’s End learned this lesson the hard way when, bolstered by strong online sales, the company decided to eliminate the print catalog. Profits plummeted immediately. Retrospective analysis revealed consumers’ preference for touching the physical catalog before purchasing products online.
Neuroscience of Touch
Furthermore, paper quality appears to matter as well. In a Sappi study exploring branding through print brochures, consumers were given the choice of reading online brochures vs. those with high-quality, coated paper stock, or thin un-coated paper. Quality triumphed: respondents reported higher trust levels, greater likelihood to recommend and, perhaps most important for branding purposes, better memory of products presented on higher quality paper. Request a free copy of the Sappi book Neuroscience of Touch: Haptic Brain, Haptic Brand here…
More on the Neuroscience of Touch can be learned by viewing the Sappi video below: