BACK WHEN KEVIN ABERGEL was working at MGI on the JETvarnish 3D press, the manufacturer was going to market with its first digital embellishment press. To get some human insight, Abergel wanted to know what people on the street thought of tactile embellishments. Not people who knew printing, marketing or even design, but regular people with no connections to the industry.
He took to the streets of Paris with some samples, randomly asking people for their take. To his surprise, everyone’s initial impulse was to reach out and touch the samples. Man, woman, child, old or young, everyone had the same reaction—a human reaction.
“Our brains are all fundamentally the same,” says Abergel, who today is President of Taktiful Marketing, a firm that specializes in consulting with printers, manufacturers and brands on how to harness the power of Touch Marketing. “What unites us is the subconscious need to touch and connect. I often used this philosophy in sales later. Whenever I would show a sample to a prospective buyer, I would always point out what their thumbs were doing when they looked at the printed sample. They subconsciously were ‘petting’ the print. I would then tell them the stats around the science of touch—its effect on perceived ownership and affective response, and how powerful of a sales tool that could be for them and for their customers.”
THE SENSE OF TOUCH IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF HUMAN INTERACTION, AND BY RECREATING IT THROUGH HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY, WE CAN BRIDGE THE GAP THAT HAS BEEN CREATED BY OUR INCREASINGLY DIGITAL LIVES.”
— KEVIN ABERGEL, PRESIDENT, TAKTIFUL MARKETING
Blink and they’re gone. Think about it. Imagine how it feels as you impatiently watch the timer tick down before you can skip an ad on YouTube. Add to it the ever-crushing mix of overflowing inboxes, a barrage of internet pop-ups, an overload of social media channels and formats—all vying for your attention. It is no wonder our attention spans have shriveled to under five seconds. An infographic produced by Two Sides North America points out that the majority of Americans agree that print on paper is preferred for learning and retention. The data shows that 88% believe they understand, retain or use information better when they read it in print. In addition, 80% have a clear preference for reading complicated materials in print, in contrast to 13% for computer screens and 3% for smartphones. Of 18 to 24 year olds, 69% say it is important to “switch off” and enjoy printed books and magazines once in a while.
You want more proof on the power of haptic marketing? The Association for Psychological Science stresses that taking notes with pen and paper boosts memory and our ability to understand better. “Companies are looking for ways to enhance their customer’s experience by transforming their digital world into a physical one,” says Joanne Gore, President of the full-service B2B marketing agency Joanne Gore Communications Inc. and CMO of Taktiful.“Designers want to transform the digital vision into a tangible one, while marketers mine data to provide a hyper-personal customer experience.”That’s why brands like Netflix, Amazon, Shopify and Nike are using physical stores, merchandise branding and pop-ups to provide memorable immersive experiences. These “phygital” approaches enable brands of all sizes to bridge the physical-digital gap and engage customers with an experience that transcends platforms, devices and location.
When you make print interactive using QR codes, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), you bridge analog and digital worlds. You capture the attention of prospects and customers for a longer period of time and foster smoother business operations. Not only do these technologies literally bring print to life, they elevate digital-only tactics with long-lasting, memorable and sensory experiences that only print can provide.“Interactive print technologies engage the senses by blending the physical and digital, as customers discover your products and services in exciting new ways,” Gore says. “QR codes make it easy to drive customers to pURLs, URLs, landing pages, surveys, videos, contact information, featured promos and more—without having to navigate through website menus and submenus. Adding AR and VR elements helps keep them there.”
THE MORE PERSONAL THE BETTER. ALL THE THINGS WE DO THESE DAYS TO MAKE OUR DAY QUICKER AND MORE CONVENIENT, LET’S PAUSE AND TAKE A STEP TO BE MORE CONNECTED.”
— JUSTIN AHRENS, CHIEF EVANGELIST, RULE29
Emotions. That’s the driving force behind why marketers love the strategy behind a haptic approach to marketing. Abergel says that our ability to connect with each on a physical level, something that was happening even before the pandemic stepped in, makes the strategy even more important today.“We become more and more reliant on technology,” Abergel says. “The sense of touch is an essential part of human interaction, and by recreating it through haptic technology, we can bridge the gap that has been created by our increasingly digital lives.”
Abergel says that in an age where digital marketing reigns supreme, many marketers are looking for ways to make their campaigns stand out and offer something unique that will capture consumers’ attention. “Haptic marketing provides a way to do just that.”In addition, haptic marketing can be used to create a sense of urgency or excitement around a product or service. By stimulating the sense of touch, marketers can create a “buzz” that will encourage consumers to take action. Even though we can buy anything and everything online today, 56% of consumers surveyed recently by RetailDive admit to visiting retail stores to see or touch a product before purchasing. Once they do, the impulse purchase probabilities skyrocket by 62%.
Justin Ahrens and his team of creatives, thinkers and doers at Rule29 continue to take it upon themselves to find ways to intimately connect and engage with today’s fickle consumer. The creative agency, where Ahrens serves as chief evangelist, views the reemergence from the pandemic as a way to reestablish our senses.“I believe before the pandemic, and even more so now, we as people were collectively searching for more unique and custom experiences, as we have been dulled from the immediacy we can give and receive information,” Ahrens says. “Today we have so many options to connect with a customer. We have found that a well-designed print piece, direct mail and environmental design can still turn a head, create a memorable moment and promote action.”
Ahrens says the whole process comes down to our “connectedness.” How can we be more connected to how we truly feel, then be open to the world around us, nature and the people we come in contact with? In his commitment and passion to building engagement, Ahrens often refers to one of his favorite quotes by Harriet Goldhor Lerner: “Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.”
“The more personal the better,” Ahrens says. “Handwritten cards. Emails that are freshly written and do not sound like form emails. Call versus text. All the things we do these days to make our day quicker and more convenient, let’s pause and take a step to be more connected.”They are lessons from a bygone era—ones that still ring true today.