The Finishing School

The role of haptics in the customer journey

Haptics is the process of understanding information through touch, a non-verbal communication which plays a huge role in customer experience. 

Brands have long been aware – and taken advantage of – the effectiveness of haptics in marketing and advertising. But many are still out of touch when it comes to haptic customer journeys, missing out on key opportunities to differentiate from competitors. 

In our multi-platform, cross-media world, multi-sensory branding makes sense. Venturing beyond visuals with haptics can set brands apart, creating a more personal experience that has a positive effect on subconscious consumer behaviour. 

Here, we look at the power of touch within each stage of the shopping experience. From raising awareness to retaining loyal advocates, here’s how to use haptics for happier customer journeys. 

First contact: customer awareness & consideration

Our brain uses external sensory cues to understand the world around us, without us even knowing. Naturally, it uses the same processes to decide which brands to buy from. 

With 95% percent of our purchase decision-making taking place in the subconscious mind (according to Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman), it’s important to appeal to the senses at the very first stage of brand awareness. This can be anything from the luxurious embossing of a business card, to the warm, snug vibes of a homeware store. For restaurants and cafes, the pristine grease-resistant lamination of a menu can be enough to communicate quality and hygiene to potential diners. A ‘gut feeling’, if you like.

When done right, reaching out to customers via the sense of touch sends positive messages to the somatosensory cortex (the brain region responsible for receiving and processing sensory information). It’s subtle, subconscious, and tells consumers that you’re the brand for them. Which, in turn, creates deeper trust from the start.

Decisions, decisions… getting to grips with a product.

There’s no sense quite like literally feeling and touching to get a strong perception of a product – it can make or break a sale. The sense of touch, where products are concerned, immediately creates a stronger sense of ownership so that purchase is more likely.

Where products cannot be directly held, packaging can step in to create strong sensory resonance with a customer. Brand packaging that stimulates the sense of touch along with vision can influence reactions to the product and perceptions of the brand. 

Countless studies have found that consumers are willing to pay (more if required) for exclusive and high-end products. And that luxury feel, especially for new customers, is communicated through packaging. 

Varnishing is one technique used to add a premium look and feel to packaging using texture. Special effects such as pearlescent, glitter or even velvety coatings can be used to deliver a range of effects that appeal to our subconscious thought processes. Likewise, raised varnish is perfect for adding textures to packaging, from leather effects to high-built-up logos.

Finishing touches: retention & advocacy 

You’ve done it. You’ve clinched the sale. But it doesn’t end here. Now it’s time to get customers hooked on the feeling of your brand. Many retailers miss out on a huge opportunity to heighten emotion here – at the ‘unpackaging’ touchpoint. 

For online retailers, fewer tactile touchpoints are available to earn customer advocacy, so this hands-on experience can mean the difference in repeat purchase behaviour. 

Pay close attention to the design and feel of the product’s packaging. Thoughtful finishing touches, especially tactile playful ones such as this holographic lamination seal for Ted Baker, ensure a highly emotive experience that takes advantage of consumers’ sensory needs. 

Finishing strong adds perceived value to your brand, building deeper loyalty while encouraging repeat purchase behaviour. It could also turn a customer into an advocate, who might share the memorable moment with other potential buyers, either in person or on social media.

These unique touches will ensure customers feel better and in turn influence purchase decisions and brand trust.

Discover the power of haptics with our special effect finishes or get in touch with one of the team for help elevating your brand’s tactile customer experience.

Celloglas Ted Baker Shiny Paper Print Finishing