How Influential Is Touch

The eminent speakers and dignitaries who attended FORBS, 2019 enlightened us on several important topics. One among them was Touch or No Touch. The topic focussed on how consumers purchasing behaviour is affected by the element of touch. 

Touch or no touch can have an impact on the consumers. Look and touch are two different things as per consumer perspective. Touch has a utilitarian and a hedonic concept. All items do not have the same amount of touch or feel requirement. The usage of the product determines its need for touch. Also, not all consumers have the equal desire to touch or feel a product before buying it. Consumers in general, are greatly affected by handling the product physically. However, diagnostic products have considerably greater requirements of touch as compared to  non-diagnostic products. Diagnostic products include mobile phones and electronic gadgets. They have ample need for touch. The features of the product can be better understood by the physical handling of the product. But then the question is, why are mobile phones sold so extensively via the online mode? The answer is its PRICE! Online sites offer the products at a much lower rate than showrooms. The features and attributes are clearly mentioned, which makes it easy for the customers to comprehend and judge the product. The same logic applies to other diagnostic products as well such as clothes, earphones, body care products, etc. Furthermore, online sites have the option of returning the products within 30 days of the purchase. These attributes altogether over shadows the impact of touch on consumers.  A non-diagnostic product as such a bottle of water have little or need of touch. We can only touch the bottle not the water, and the quality of the bottle may not reveal the quality of water inside. 

Coming to the utilitarian concept of products, some people have more need for touch as they cannot make decisions without actually touching the product. So, customers are also high touch centric versus low touch centric depending upon their behaviour. Why do some people have more preference towards touching a product than others? This is because of the cognitive and evaluative characteristic of the product. Cognition helps evaluate and understand the product better, thereby assisting individuals to make wiser decisions. The need for touch does not arise necessarily in auto telling products. The auto-telling products highlights its benefits and usage unchaperoned. Therefore, these products attract customers towards itself. But then again, liking a product and buying intention are two different things. Buying intention is imperative after all. An instrumental consumer evaluates the product on the basis of its worth need, which means, how would the product satisfy his/her need and then makes a purchase.

Low cognition and high emotion products can help classify customers into offline and online mode. There are individuals who would never make a purchase without actually touching the item intended to purchase. I, as a student of PGDM of Calcutta Business School,, feel that after 2000, there has been a shift in consumer purchasing pattern after the emergence of online shopping. The behavioural shift in consumers have created an enormous impact on the entire buying and selling process. Changes have to be adopted in order to compete and excel in the cut-throat competitive  market. 

Kanchan Sharma

PGDM Batch 2019-21

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