New research out of Brigham Young University shows that when advertising focuses on what a consumer can touch and taste, they’re more likely to want what’s being sold as soon as possible.
It turns out our senses correspond closely with distance. You can hear an outdoor concert from a few blocks away or smell someone grilling next door. Touch and taste on the other hand, that’s up close and personal.
“For me to be able to touch it or taste it it has to be within arm’s reach in the case of touch or in my mouth in the case of taste," says Ryan Elder, BYU marketing professor and lead author of the study.
Elder says people connect those distance senses, sight and smell, to experiences further in the future. For example, if a city was advertising a firework show months away it would make sense to focus on sights and smells. But the closer the show gets, Elder says the description of the show should change to what he calls the “feels”
“Maybe the cool breeze that will be on your face," Elder says. "The feel the of the fireworks actually bursting rather than just the sound or even the taste of things you can eat while you’re there.”
When those feelings are emphasized people want to be a part of it sooner.
This concept also applies to relational distance. Touch and taste are more important factors when you’re shopping for a loved one or relative. If it’s an acquaintance or coworker, sight and sound work just fine.
Despite the research Elder says advertisers are still just figuring out that playing with senses really matters.
“What prior research has found is that people are really good now at imagining the haptic experiences or what this is really going to feel like if you give them a description that allows me to imagine that experience," says Elder.
The better someone can imagine an experience the more they want that imagination to become reality. And the more they are willing to pay for it.