Encourage people to hold your product
When people hold a product, they are up to 48% more likely to choose it or a product of the same shape and size.
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You enter a store to get some groceries, and you’re a bit unsure of what to buy.
You pick up a tin of canned pineapples to look at it.
Then, while you’re holding it, you look up and see a similar sized can of tomato sauce.
Because of what you’re holding, you’ll be much more likely to choose both products - than if your hands were empty.
P.S.: You don’t need a physical store to benefit from the effect of touch - showing someone else’s hand touching a product can be just as effective.
People are more likely to choose a product when they’re holding it or an object of the same shape and size
Channels: Retail store | Packaging | Product
Research date: January 2016
Allow and encourage people to touch and hold your products when they’re shopping.
Keep items within easy reach, try to provide testers or samplers when relevant, and prioritize product designs that are appealing to touch.
People will be more likely to choose it - as well as similar size and shape products.
People are more likely to like your product and to choose it when they’re holding it, or an object of the same size and shape.
As part of 2 experiments, people were:
48% more likely to choose a chocolate of the same shape as what they were holding (rectangular chocolate or egg-shaped chocolate)
39.9% more likely to choose a Fanta drink (either a can or a bottle) while they were holding either of the objects
The effect is up to 208% stronger when products are displayed packed close together in a crowded display.
🧠 Why it works
Visual and physical processing are closely connected in our brains, sharing the same neural pathways. Because of this, touching something helps us visualize and process it, even compensating for when we can’t properly see it.
When we have both visual and touch-based information on a product, we understand it better.
The positive effect of touch is even stronger when products are crowded close together because they are harder to visually process, and touch helps us recognize objects more easily.
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The experiments tested a soft drink and chocolate. The effect is likely to vary with other types of products. For example, it’s likely to be weaker (or not exist) for an expensive planned purchase.
The research was limited to only two lab experiments, making the findings riskier to generalize in other real-life situations.
The study focused on one type of touch - holding an object. It didn’t look at other types of physical touch, such as lightly touching, pressing, swiping, or sitting on an object. The effect may also work differently for products that involve other types of contact when they’re in use (e.g. a keyboard, chair, backpack).
🏢 Companies using this
Electronics retailers often include ‘sampler’ versions of their products on tables in front of their display cases so that shoppers can hold and interact with their products.
In supermarkets, shelves with easy physical reach (e.g. that make it possible to grab an item without bending or stretching) usually demand premium prices over the top and bottom shelves.
Retailers focused on online sales have experimented with offline stores (e.g. Nordstrom Locals, Bonobos’ Guideshops), to let customers touch and try purchases before ordering them online.
Apple stores are famous for allowing people to easily touch, hold, and interact with their products.
⚡ Steps to implement
Give opportunities for your customers to hold your product or something of
Make it easy to grab and hold the product
Provide tester products
Keep similar shaped products in the same area
Prioritize product packaging that is similar in shape and size to either market leaders for the product or other items that people often hold (e.g. phone, water bottle).
If your products are similar in size to a wallet, credit card, or phone, try positioning your item near the checkout counters where people will hold and use these to pay for their purchase.
If you sell online, and people can’t touch or hold your product, you can help people visualize themselves touching or having the product by:
Showing a hand touching the product
Giving vivid descriptions of how the product would feel when touched (especially for clothes)
🔍 Study type
Multisensory interaction in product choice: Grasping a product affects choice of other seen products. Journal of Consumer Psychology (January 2016)
Mathias C. Streicher. University of Innsbruck
Remember: This is a scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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