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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by sitecore\kmcgrigg on January 24, 2011

Don't touch the merchandise. I learned this great tip from Kelly Whalen during recent tweetchat hosted by Wise Bread (#wbchat).  The theory is that the more you touch, the more you buy.  But can saving money really be as simple as learning to keep your hands to yourself?  For many people, the answer is yes.

study conducted at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, concluded that touch can influence purchase decisions.  Their statistics prove that some people have trouble making purchase decisions when they can't touch the merchandise. The reason we are so susceptible to touch was also covered in the study.  The University of Wisconsin researchers found that touching seems to increase the sense of ownership of a product. In other words, holding that cashmere scarf is just one small, but significant, step away from actually owning it.  This is important for consumers to understand if they want to have a fighting chance of making smart decisions.  Savvy marketers are fully aware of the importance of touch in the buying process. There is even a name for the study of touch in marketing: “haptic” or sensory research.  

The problem is that the seemingly simple solution of implementing a "no touch" rule is easier said than done.  An MIT researcher found that our need to touch begins in infancy.  He believes that we use touch as the easiest route to obtaining information by drawing on ideas we developed in childhood.  

Because the importance of touch goes back to childhood, maybe we need to look back to childhood for a solution.  During the tweetchat, a friend (who coincidentally works for a company that produces extremely touchable clothing!) suggested that I reinstate the 1 Finger Rule that I used several years ago whenever shopping with my very hands-on children. 

1 Finger Rule: You can touch anything you want, but only with one finger.

I came up with this rule after a visit to the museum where a very patient volunteer allowed 30 preschoolers to touch different animal pelts, but only with one finger.  It worked so beautifully that I decided to turn it into a shopping rule.  

The 1 Finger Rule turned out to be very successful because it satisfied my children's overwhelming need to touch EVERYTHING, but it kept them from breaking things or, more importantly, grabbing things off the shelf (have you ever noticed how toddlers have super-human grip strength when they get a hold of something they want?).

I thought that the need for the 1 Finger Rule was unnecessary now that my kids are older and understand more about money.  However, with this new information in mind, I think it's time reinstate the 1 Finger Rule for the entire family.  I challenge you to try it too.  If you do, please let me know how it works!

Posted in:  Shopping, Cutting Costs


Barbara Johnson says:
January 25, 2011

I found One Finger Touch very interesting!

Anonymous says:
January 27, 2011

But I shop via Online, so the touching part is not the "trigger" for me. I buy all type of "Bargains" via Groupon, YouSwoop, LivingSocial, and others that offer discounted specials with a sense of urgency. "buy it now, its only this price for 24 hours" so I get sucked in and react.

Kelly says:
January 24, 2011

Great article! I really do practice no touching all the time. I occupy my hands with the cart I'm pushing, my phone, or keeping my hands in my pockets. Thanks for sharing!

Lora Sasiela says:
March 31, 2011

Kim, I LOVE this! I am reminded of all the times sales people will want to place merchandise directly into your all makes sense now.

Marichi says:
January 25, 2011

Yes, it will be a great help in minimizing my impulsiveness on sale & improve the buying habits of my kids too! Many Thanks.....

Mary Graff says:
January 27, 2011

No wonder when I was working a second job at a Hallmark card/gift shop store, I ended buying so much unnecessary junk and had to quit the job! I had to handle/touch everything to restock. If only I could have used just one finger!

Sondra says:
January 28, 2011

Touching is a real trigger for me.Thank you for the article. Asking a sales person to take something out of the display case is even worse. You have entered into the transaction by involving the sales person (you have "taken the sales person's time" and are beginning the waltz toward paying for the object.

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