People Will Pay 50% More For Items They Can Touch

You’re probably familiar with the effect of a sumptuous dessert tray wheeled to your table at a fine restaurant. When the cheesecake or torte or flan is within lunging distance, your salivary glands practically demand you order a slice.

According to a group of researchers at Caltech, the same kind of marketing could be an advantage that could help brick and mortar stores in their fight with Internet-based commerce, reports WalletPop.

The group, led by professor Antonio Rangel and grad student Benjamin Bushong, studied the reactions of customers to text descriptions of an item vs. photographs of an item vs.actually being able to touch the item. They began by testing this reaction in food, and found that their test subjects would bid 50% more for items they could actually reach out and touch. They found no significant difference in bids between foods described by text and foods shown in photographs.

They then did the same test using trinkets from the school book store, and found that the customers were still willing to pay 50% more for items they could touch. The researchers then put the items behind a transparent shield so that customers could see that they were only an arms-length away but they could not touch them. In this case, the customers were not willing to pay more than they would for an item they saw in a picture or read about.

This is an advantage even the most creative online merchant will be hard-pressed to match. No matter how detailed the picture of an item I’m shopping for is on Amazon, it always feels like the screen of my monitor.

Photo by FarkasP.

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