Multisensory Series #3 – Touch

Our skin is our largest organ. It’s what we experience the tactile world through and the influence it has on our decision-making is considerable, encouraging increased consumer response and allowing for greater degrees of persuasion. As such, it’s a wonder how often marketing fails to engage the sensory experience of touch.

The hyper-locality of this sense makes it an intrinsically personal one, but the degree to which people will want and/or need to touch something or someone – to explore those elements of their immediate environment with their hands – varies considerably. Apart from personal and cultural bias, there are also distinct methodologies which govern where, when and how touch is best used, depending on the situation and individuals’ motivations, as well as the information and outcome desired.

When we built Naked Juice its Power Garden in Chicago a few years ago, we made a point of proactively encouraging passersby to reach out and touch the fruit and vegetables being grown there. A raft of (at the time) cutting edge technologies worked in harmony to allow each plant to respond to the tactile input of users, eliciting a vocal response from each plant. Most people had never heard a cherry tomato or purple carrot sing before and were surprised and delighted with the garden, which drew them in and helped them to really get in touch with the brand.

Naked Juice’s Power Garden

Of great interest are new technologies that are challenging the past c. 50,000 years of behavioural modernity, which have been rooted in the geographical immediacy of the sense of touch. Telehaptic technologies, enabling touch-at-a-distance, are giving people the opportunity to experience the physical sensations of touching representations of objects created through various means, including the use of ultrasound and air pressure. As these technologies become ever more prevalent, we’ll see an increase in the frequency of experiences offering haptic feedback, whether it’s in front of a billboard, digital screen or piece of PoS, or featuring in a piece of AR or VR content.

Here’s a little infographic (courtesy of Alternatives Finder) explaining how touch can influence purchasing behaviour: