Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No touching, please

A Stranger’s Touch: Effects of Accidental Interpersonal Touch on Consumer Evaluations and Shopping Time, written by Brett A. S. Martin, professor of marketing at the Queensland University of Technology, examines an unexplored area of consumer research - the effect of accidental interpersonal touch (AIT) from a stranger on consumer evaluations and shopping times. The research presents a field experiment in a retail setting. This study shows that men and women who have been touched by another consumer when examining products report more negative brand evaluations, negative product beliefs, less willingness to pay, and spend less time in-store than their control (no touch) counterparts. The findings indicate that the AIT effect is especially negative for touch from a male stranger for both men (same-sex touch) and women (opposite-sex touch). 

Researchers approached nearly 150 men and women, in a retail district, saying they were interested in general attitudes toward shopping. They asked the shoppers to browse in a luggage store and to evaluate one small bag in particular. As the shopper looked at the bag, a male or female confederate of the researchers walked closely past him or her. Half the time, the confederate brushed lightly against the shopper’s right shoulder blade.
Consumers who were touched rated the brand of the bag only 3.3, on a 7-point scale, while those who were not touched gave it a 4.9. Shoppers who were grazed also spent roughly half the time in the store (82 seconds) as those who weren’t (158 seconds). A male touch had stronger negative effects than a female touch.

Download the study by clicking here