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What we touch while shopping affects what we buy, researchers say
Our hands lead us to certain choices, according to Zachary Estes of Bocconi University.
We were hunter-gatherers for the vast majority of human history. The ancient practice of weighing game or foraged goodies in the hand, may be having a lasting impression on us, today. Though we're unaware of it, what we touch influences what we buy.
Whether it's running your fingers over fabrics or weighing a coffee mug in your hand, touching a product ensures future recognition of it, according to a 2015 study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology. For instance, those who want to purchase a candy bar are more likely to buy a KitKat over a Snickers, if they're holding their smartphone in their hand. That's because the candy bar and the phone are more or less the same in size and shape. Nestlé lucked out.
Other startling findings were uncovered during a series of studies conducted by Zachary Estes and a colleague. Estes is an assistant professor of marketing at Bocconi University in Italy. He collaborated with Mathias Streicher at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. The two ran a series of studies on touch and how it affects purchasing decisions.
Those wanting a candy bar while holding a smartphone are more likely to choose a KitKat. Flickr.
Just holding a product in your hand increases your likelihood of buying it, the researchers found. That and we're liable to purchase whatever item we are looking at, if it's similar to what we're currently holding. This could have tremendous ramifications not only in marketing but psychology, sociology, neurology, and our understanding of human evolution.
Estes and Streicher performed a number of experiments. In each, they blindfolded participants and had them grasp familiar objects, such as a Coke bottle. They had participants touch these items under the guise of a weight test. Subjects were asked to weigh them in their hand. What researchers were really looking at was whether tactile sensation led to brand recognition. Estes said what they found was that, “Distinctive product shapes like Coca-Cola's iconic bottle design can provide a powerful source of brand identity and recognition."
Next, participants were asked to identify any product from its picture on a screen. The images faded in. Over time, the product they had held, along with others from the same category, appeared. So in the Coke bottle experiment, other sodas faded in onscreen along with a Coke. Researchers wanted to see which one participants noticed first. Similar products often appeared more quickly on the screen than the one the recruits had handled beforehand. Even so, they were more likely to pick the one that they'd touched.
Merely holding something in your hand affects what you buy. Getty Images.
In addition, participants were more likely to choose the product they had held, when offered a drink as a reward for taking part in the experiment. Why? According to the authors, touching the bottle “activated the conceptual representation of that object, which then facilitated subsequent processing of the given object."
That recognition in turn, strengthened their choice. Our brain prefers something a similar shape and size to what we've had before, it turns out. So when you hold something like your phone, wallet, or a drink, or even when you shop online using a mouse, those tactile sensations influence how you shop and what you buy.
What can be done to solidify a product in the public's mind? According to Estes, “Product designers could create packages that mimic those commonly held forms, and marketing managers can accentuate this effect of product touch by placing several products near one another, and by encouraging consumers to touch the products on display."
Retailers such as Apple and Best Buy bank on customers having tactile experiences. Image source: Getty
There were two variables that strengthened or reduced this tactile effect, researchers found. One is situational and the other personal. The situational variable has to do with what is known as visual density. If you go into some discount stores, displays are often overcrowded with merchandise. There's very little space between items and they might overlap one another.
In more highbrow establishments, products tend to have a lot of room. It turns out, when the arrangement is dense and crowded, our sense of touch becomes more important. The authors write, “As visual perception becomes less reliable, tactile perception assumes a greater role in the recognition of object shape."
The other factor is personality. Some people have more of a need to touch things than others. These touchy-feely types usually pick up products, read their labels, and weigh them in their hands, while they shop. Those who are haptic in their approach are more influenced by how a product feels.
In a Proctor & Gamble study published in 2009, spanning 21 years total, found that customers who were able to feel merchandise were willing to pay more than those who hadn't. This phenomenon is called “The Endowment Effect." Basically, we make an emotional connection with what we touch.
As a result, touching something increases one's sense of ownership over it. The innovation here is that the shape of the object seems to make a particular impression and the effect is strengthened or dimmed upon one's haptic proclivities and how the merchandise is displayed.
To hear about this study, click here:
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A few years ago, I proposed that the feeling of cold in one's spine, while for example watching a film or listening to music, corresponds to an event when our vital need for cognition is satisfied.
Certain colors are globally linked to certain feelings, the study reveals.
- Color psychology is often used in marketing to alter your perception of products and services.
- Various studies and experiments across multiple years have given us more insight into the link between personality and color.
- The results of a new study spanning 6 continents (30 nations) shows universal correlations between colors and emotions around the globe.
The root of color psychology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e40cf62fa8922fcca6c57e2fcb215b6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OM4fXB23pCQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>There is a very likely chance you've even been "fooled" by color marketing in the past, or you've chosen one product over another subconsciously due to colors that were designed to influence your emotions.<br></p><p>Companies that want to be known for being dependable often use blue in their logos, for example (Dell, HP, IBM). Companies that want to be perceived as fun and exciting go for a splash of orange (Fanta, Nickelodeon, even Amazon). Green is associated with natural, peaceful emotions and is often used by companies like Whole Foods and Tropicana. </p><p><strong>Your favorite color says a lot about your personality. </strong></p><p>Various studies and experiments across multiple years (<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49595886_Personality_Traits_and_Colour_Preferences" target="_blank">2010</a>, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12087" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2014</a>, <a href="http://oaji.net/articles/2015/1170-1448038739.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015</a>, and more recently in <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824#modern-research-on-color-psychology" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019</a>) have given us more insight into the link between your personality and your favorite color.</p><p>Red, for example, is considered a bold color and is associated with feelings such as excitement, passion, anger, danger, energy, and love. The personality traits of this color might be someone who is bold, a little impulsive, and who loves adventure. </p><p>Orange, on the other hand, is considered representative of creativity, happiness, and freedom. The personality traits of this color can be fun, playful, cheerful, nurturing, and productive. Read more about color psychology and personalities <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/color-personality-psychology?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self">here</a>.</p>
Study reveals which colors best suit which emotions around the globe<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYzMTk5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc4OTg5OH0.bY-pu-MFNivdJLDJuBp9TBKrhwuy7hngUa1aIWxQMVw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="33fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1a5d7bb00dac94bd6201616789fb4882" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of color psychology how colors make us feel color emotions" />
Certain colors are globally ties to certain emotions, the study reveals.
Image by agsandrew on Shutterstock<p>In this particular survey, participants were asked to fill out an online questionnaire which involved assigning 20 emotions to 12 different color terms. They were also asked to specify the intensity with which they associated the color term with the emotion.</p><p><strong>Certain colors are globally linked to certain emotions, the study reveals.</strong></p><p>The results of this study showed a few definite correlations between colors and emotions throughout the globe. Red, for example, is the only color that is strongly associated with both negative (anger) and positive (love) feelings. Brown, on the other end of the spectrum, is the color that triggers the fewest emotions globally.<br></p><p>The color white is closely associated with sadness in China, while purple is what is closely associated with sadness in Greece. This can be traced back to the roots of each culture, with white being worn at funerals in China and dark purple being the Greek Orthodox Church's color of mourning. </p><p>Yellow is more associated with joy, specifically in countries that see less sunshine. Meanwhile, its association with joy is weaker in areas that have greater exposure to sunshine. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910150247.htm" target="_blank">According to Dr. Oberfeld-Twistel</a>, it is difficult to say exactly what the causes for global similarities and differences are. "There is a range of possible influencing factors: language, culture, religion, climate, the history of human development, the human perceptual system."</p>