Use “Handwritten” fonts to increase sales
Fonts that look handwritten make a product or brand feel more human, which makes us like it more. The opposite happens if a product is very functional (e.g. scissors).
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Humanizing your products and services is an effective way of improving conversions and satisfaction (for example, see previous tip: Show your service employees on your website).
Today we look at how fonts that look and feel handwritten change the perception of your product.
Handwritten fonts increase sales of hedonic products
Impacted metrics: Customer acquisition | Customer satisfaction
Channels: Packaging | Website/app | Ads
If your product is hedonic (e.g. a decorative candle, food, fashion, experiences) use handwritten fonts in your communications (e.g. packaging, website, ads).
If your product is functional (e.g. insect-repellent candle, home repair, accounting services) use machine-written fonts in your communications.
The same product with a font that looks and feels handwritten is much more likely to be bought than when it’s packaging had a machine-written font (e.g. 30.4% vs 5.6% for Crispbread, 17.2% vs 3.4% for chocolate).
The effect is weaker when a consumer is already attached to a brand or product (e.g. a famous brand like Coca-Cola).
If a product is functional (e.g. building materials), the opposite happens. People are more likely to buy it if it uses a machine-written font.
(Examples of handwritten vs machine-written fonts used in the study - Click to zoom in)
(Chocolate used in one of the experiments. The one on the left was bought 17.2% of the time compared to the one on the right’s 3.4% - Click to zoom in)
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🧠 Why it works
Handwritten fonts give us a feeling of human presence. That creates an emotional attachment, which makes us like hedonic products more. In other words, they humanize the product.
When we buy a utilitarian product or service we usually look for a sturdy and cheap product or a technical and professional service. Machine-written fonts convey that message much better.
All experiments were performed on the packaging of physical products. The effects should hold for digital products and in different situations (e.g. a website, an ad), but this was not directly tested.
🏢 Companies using this
Examples include Danone’s website, the packaging of Evolution Fresh, and ads by Oreo or Whole Foods.
Yet, many companies don’t seem to be making use of this opportunity. They use machine-written sans serif fonts (e.g., Helvetica, Gill Sans, Futura) no matter whether their products are hedonic or functional.
⚡ Steps to implement
Font guidelines: handwritten fonts have irregular spacing between letters, irregular sizes across letters, irregular thickness across and within letters, and some unevenly drawn lines.
Consider other ways to humanize your product as well. For example, on a dairy product show an image of a farmer instead of a cow.
🔍 Study type
Lab and online experiments, United States, Germany, and Austria
Schroll, R., Schnurr, B., & Grewal, D. (March 2018). Humanizing products with handwritten typefaces. Journal of Consumer Research, 45(3), 648-672.
University of Innsbruck and Babson College. Austria and United States
Remember: This research could be disproven in the future (although this is rare). It also may 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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