The things we hold while shopping can affect what we buy, according to a new study which found that people are significantly more likely to choose a product that is similar to the shape of whatever they are holding. Researchers, including those at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, showed that grasping an object can facilitate visual processing and choice of other seen products of the same shape and size. They showed that blindfolded people induced to grasp familiar products under the guise of a weight judgement task were quicker in recognising the brand name of the product when it slowly appears on a screen, and choose more often that product among others as a reward for having participated in the experiment. "For instance, when you are holding your mobile phone in your hand, you may be more likely to choose a KitKat than a Snickers, because the KitKat is shaped more like your phone," said Zachary Estes from Bocconi University in Italy. "What we find is that consumers are significantly more likely to choose the product that is similar to the shape of whatever is in their hand," Estes said. "These results have direct implications for product and package designers and marketing managers," Estes concludes. "For one thing, distinctive product shapes like Coca- Cola's iconic bottle design can provide a powerful source of brand identity and recognition," he said. "Second, consumers tend to choose products that are shaped like the things they often hold, like a mobile phone, a wallet, or a computer mouse when shopping online," he said. "Product designers could create packages that mimic those commonly held forms, and marketing managers can accentuate this effect of product touch by placing several products near one another, and by encouraging consumers to touch the products on display," Estes said.
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