Don’t Touch the Shopper

“Getting touched by a fellow shopper—even an apparently accidental brush—makes consumers less likely to buy the product they’re considering, a new study suggests.

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.” – via WSJ

“A Stranger’s Touch: Effects of Accidental Interpersonal Touch on Consumer Evaluations and Shopping Time,” Brett A.S. Martin, Journal of Consumer Research [pdf]