Make people want to ‘grab’ your product
Strategically position graspable objects in your creatives. People will feel a sense of ownership of your product, and will be more likely to buy it.
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Hold tight. This study is going to blow your mind.
In one of the experiments, scientists tripled signups for a loyalty program by strategically positioning a vegetable peeler in an image advert of the program.
Let’s take a look.
P.S.: In this study I talk about positioning objects in a way that’s convenient for right-handers. The more correct way would be to say ‘position objects for each person’s dominant hand’.
But 90% of the world’s population is right-handed, so you are better off simply catering to them.
I know, left-handed people always get ignored. I’m left-handed myself.
Strategically position objects that seem easy to grab in your ads
Channels: Ads | Image Ads | Website | Marketing communications
For: Both B2C and B2B
Research date: October 2019
Products can be either:
Graspable objects: that people can easily grab and hold in their hand (e.g. mug, baseball bat)
Non-graspable objects: anything else - physical or non-physical (e.g. car, newsletter, SaaS software)
You can increase sales of any product by strategically positioning graspable objects in your marketing creatives (e.g. ads, website, email banners).
If your product is a graspable object, position it in a way that people can easily imagine grabbing it with their right hand (e.g. to the right side of an image, with the handle facing right).
If your product is not graspable, position a graspable object (even if unrelated to your product) in the field of vision of the product you are selling (e.g. image of a car, logo of your SaaS). It will make your product feel graspable.
Previous research found that people like products that they can take and hold (“graspable” objects) more when they are on the right side of their body or when the handle is pointed toward the right. For example:
Mugs, wine glasses, and yogurt cups are graspable objects
A bottle of detergent on a store shelf would sell more when placed with the handle on the right, rather than the left
This study found that graspable objects can be placed strategically to increase preferences for non-graspable products in the same field of view (e.g. a painting, an ad for accounting software). For example:
A mug with a handle facing to the right, placed in an ad for a wall-mounted clock
A pen on the right side of an ad for accounting services
For example, as part of 8 experiments:
7,962 visitors to a shopping center walked by different versions of a poster advertising its loyalty program. The ad also contained a vegetable peeler, with the handle pointing toward the viewer
0.6% of people signed up when the peeler was on the right side of the image
0.2% signed up when the peeler was on the left
A painting was shown with a glass of wine next to it. People were asked how likely they were to buy the painting
13.9% more said they would buy it when the glass was to the right of the painting, compared to the left of it
16.2% more said they would buy it when there was a glass on the right, compared to no glass
On average, across 5 of the controlled experiments, the effect increased purchase intentions by about 7.5% to 8.75%.
In one of the experiments, people were 13.9% more likely to say they would buy a painting when it had a wine glass placed to its right, compared to when the glass was placed to its left
🧠 Why it works
When we see an object that we could easily grasp with our dominant hand, we have a stronger feeling that we own it.
Once we feel stronger ownership of a product, we like it more, are more likely to buy it, and are willing to pay more for it. We would not want to lose it, largely due to our loss aversion.
This feeling of ownership of a graspable object spills over to a non-graspable product if they are in the same field of vision.
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In most of the experiments, people were asked to not use or move their hands when looking at the ads and images. It’s possible that when people have their right hand occupied (e.g. using their phone) the effect changes or disappears, because they can’t grasp the object they see with an occupied hand.
The study focused on psychological ownership as the driver of this effect, but it is likely that there are other unexplored reasons that drive it.
It’s unclear where the line is that defines when an object is ‘graspable’. Is a smartphone in itself graspable? If it’s attached to a selfie stick, does it become more graspable?
🏢 Companies using this
No companies or advertising agencies appear to be using this technique yet.
⚡ Steps to implement
If your product is graspable, make sure to position it in a way that makes it easy for right-handed viewers to imagine grabbing it.
If your product is not graspable, think of graspable objects that would fit well in the scenario you are depicting. For example, you can set an advertisement of a luxury car on a golf course and include a graspable golf club on the right side of the image.
Apply this effect whenever you are displaying your product, and in some cases even your brand. For example in ads, on your website, or in email banners.
You can also drive a similar effect by showing a hand touching your product.
🔍 Study type
Lab and online experiments and field experiment (with two versions of a poster used to advertise a loyalty program at the entrance of a hypermarket)
On the other hand…: Enhancing promotional effectiveness with haptic cues. Journal of Marketing Research (October 2019).
Virginie Maille. KEDGE Business School
Maureen Morrin. Rutgers University–Camden
Ryann Reynolds-McIlnay. Oregon State University
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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