Morning Knowledge /15. ShoppingWE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BUY THINGS SIMILAR IN SHAPE TO WHATEVER WE HAVE IN OUR HANDS WHILE SHOPPING, STUDIES BY ZACHARY ESTES FIND
The things we touch while shopping can affect what we buy, says Bocconi Department of Marketing’s Zachary Estes. With a series of experiments, he demonstrates that grasping an object can facilitate visual processing and choice of other seen products of the same shape and size.
«For instance», explains Prof. Estes, «when you’re holding your mobile phone in your hand, you may be more likely to choose a KitKat than a Snickers, because the KitKat is shaped more like your phone. What we find is that consumers are significantly more likely to choose the product that is similar to the shape of whatever is in their hand».
However, there are two caveats to this effect, one situational and one personal. The situational constraint has to do with visual density. That is, some product arrays are very sparse, with plenty of space between the products, whereas others are very dense, with many products placed right next to one another. It turns out that when the visual array is overcrowded the hands have an even larger influence on product choice. «As visual perception becomes less reliable», Professor Estes says, «tactile perception assumes a greater role in the recognition of object shape».
The second constraint is more personal: it depends on one’s «need for touch», or how much people like to touch products while shopping. Some people really like to pick products up and feel them, and others don’t. As expected, the scholars find that the hands have much more influence on product choice among those consumers who really like to handle products.
by Fabio Todesco