Different product categories can also influence this desire. As touch is so effective at assessing texture, softness, weight and temperature, if a product varies on one of these attributes, customers are more likely to touch it before deciding whether to buy. For example, they may select the most chilled bottle of wine if they plan to drink it soon.
In buying a laptop for travel, they may pick up several to feel which is the lightest. And determining the texture of a sweater or the softness of a pillow may be critical to the purchase decision.
While we know that people touch to get product information, what may be less obvious is that they also like to touch for the sake of touching. They enjoy the interesting texture of paper, the silkiness of a soft shirt and the luxurious feel of cashmere. Even when they aren’t planning to purchase, the lure of some products rewards touchers with a positive experience. They are touching for fun.
What are the consequences of all this touching? Some are obvious, while others are less so. One important insight is that if a customer merely touches a product in a store, they are more likely to purchase it impulsively.
In one large grocery study, I placed a sign encouraging touch (‘Feel the freshness’) by the peaches and nectarines. This sign not only increased touching of the product, it also led to a significant increase in unplanned purchases. So, simple touch can increase sales.