The Google Plus logo

Harnessing the emotional power of touch(screens)

This post was written by Kayleigh Tanner and first appeared on the Epic blog on 2nd January 2014.
person uses a tabletTeetering on the verge of the January sales (I am sticking with the traditional name even though the so-called ‘post-Christmas’ sale emails started landing in my inbox from around 13th December), retailers will be keen to boost sales in any way they can. Understandably, the idea of heading into the shops into the throng of crazed sales-minded shoppers doesn’t appeal to many of us, so retailers will be keen to take advantage of the click-happy post-New Year boredom. New research has revealed that touchscreens create a stronger emotional connection between a buyer and a product. So why is this interesting to us?

The premise is simple: touching a screen mimics the action of touching a physical item, whereas sitting at a computer and clicking with a mouse creates a level of detachment between you and the product on the screen. With touchscreens arguably creating a more interactive experience, all that pinching and dragging and swiping will leave you feeling more connected with a product. If you are clicking a magnifying glass to zoom in, it won’t evoke the same emotional response as dragging your fingers across a screen to ‘pull’ it closer towards you.

The research showed that not only are browsers more likely to buy when they use a touchscreen, they also value products more highly than when they use a mouse. If we are made to feel like we are touching a product, it creates more sensory stimulation, and this makes us want it more. This research has some interesting repercussions for e-learning, and particularly multi-device learning.

This research could have some fantastic implications for product knowledge training. If you want to teach your sales staff about your products, you will want them to feel impassioned and enthusiastic about them. If they are interacting with these products on a touchscreen, they may feel more of a connection with them, which will hopefully translate into more genuine sales patter. Not only will they learn about the products; they will also learn to like them more. For instance, Epic’s award-winning suite of mobile product knowledge apps for Alfred Dunhill highlights the usefulness of multi-device learning when it comes to creating product knowledge training that learners can really interact with.

The idea of emotion in learning has been explored by Nick Shackleton-Jones, who said “We are creatures that store and compare the subtle webs of association developed by our affective systems.” In the context of product knowledge training, we could interpret this to mean that the more we interact with a product on a screen, zooming in and out and rotating it to get a feel for it as a tangible object, the more emotionally attached we will become whether we like it or not. Our Alfred Dunhill training allowed staff to access product information on iPads on the shop floor, enabling effective just-in-time performance support and on-the-job learning.

If you are interested in mobile and multi-device learning our post, ‘Designing for mobile learning and communications’, is well worth a read.