Really smart brilliant people design retail chain stores knowing the hidden tricks that will lead you to spend money when you don’t want to. For some people it is the subtle chocolate chip cookie smell pumped into women dressing rooms that spokes sales or just laying out merchandise so you can easily touch it.
Here is story all about the power of touch and the connection with our wallets.
Why does touching an item increase the likelihood of purchase? The motivation traces back to what behavioral economists have labeled the “endowment effect.” This phenomenon posits that consumers value a product more once they own it. And simply touching that Charmin may increase a shopper’s sense of ownership, and compel the consumer to buy the product.
“When you touch something, you instantly feel more of a connection to it,” says Suzanne Shu, a marketing professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and co-author of the study. “That connection stirs up an emotional reaction – ‘yeah, I like the feel of it, this can be mine.’ And that emotion can cause you to buy something you never would have bought if you hadn’t touched it.”
To prove the power of touch, the researchers placed two products, a Slinky and a coffee mug, in front of 231 undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin. About half were told they could touch the products, while the other half were prohibited from fiddling with them. Students were then asked to express their sense of ownership of the products, and to indicate how much they money they were willing to pay for both the Slinky and coffee mug.
The results were clear: those who touched the items reported statistically significant higher levels of perceived ownership. They were also willing to pay more to purchase the products. “If you don’t want to spend more money, be careful what you touch,” says Joann Peck, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin’s business school and the study’s other co-author. Peck happily describes herself as an expert in haptics, the science of touch; she has published six other papers on the subject. “Touching something gives you that little sense of control,” she says, “and that alone can increase your feeling of ownership.”
While cash-strapped shoppers might want to start tying their hands behind their backs, retailers should hang signs that say, “feel me.” For a more subtle approach, the authors single out the Apple Store as a model. The company openly invites its customers to fidget with its gadgets, and once you start playing with the iPhone, it’s awfully hard to leave the place without one.
The tricks of shopping influence how you spend money but a little awareness about those hidden techniques can make you more aware of them and neutralize them. If you want to read more about the hidden tricks that cause people to shop and buy more than they can afford, I suggest you read the books by Paco Underhill. I had the pleasure of spending the day with Paco once and he took me to malls and stores and showed me the hidden tricks he helped to develop for the stores. It was an enlightening day.