January 9, 2014
iPad Shoppers: More Likely to Buy?
A new study out of Boston College finds that e-shopping for products while grasping an iPad increases the feeling of ownership of that product – and may make you more likely to buy it.
The findings expand on a financial behavior issue explored in a popular Squared Away blog post about how the Internet has made it much easier to shop – and spend money. The new research distinguishes among the various technologies available to online shoppers and finds that the urge to buy may be even stronger when holding a touch screen device than when using a laptop or desktop computer.
The way this works is that the tactile experience of holding a product – whether taking it off the store rack or grasping the device that’s displaying it – imbues some sense of ownership, making it harder to give it up and resist buying it.
Here is an edited excerpt of an article explaining the research; the article appeared in Chronicle, a publication for Boston College faculty and staff.
Previous research has shown that simply touching — or even imagining touching — an object produces a feeling of ownership. Boston College Carroll School of Management professors James Gips and Stevan Adam Brasel wondered what happens in an age when the object’s image is on the touchscreen of an iPad, smart phone or similar hand-held device?
The Carroll School researchers had separate groups of people surf online for a sweater and a city walking-tour service using a touchscreen, touchpad, and normal computer mouse in one study, and for sweatshirts and tents on iPads and laptops in a second study.
After choosing a product, participants were asked how much money it would take for them to sell their product to someone who wanted to buy it. Those using the touchscreen wanted almost 50 percent more money for their chosen product than those using a mouse or touchpad laptop.
Explaining the reason for such elevated perceptions of ownership, Brasel says, “This is the first evidence that we know of exploring this endowment effect via touchscreen interface. When we reach out to grab a product in the real world, we’ll hold the product in one hand and touch the product with the other hand. So the act of doing that on a tablet mimics our real-world experience much better than when we’re operating a mouse that in turn moves a pointer that is on some unconnected screen we’re not even holding.“
Brasel adds, “What this work is starting to show is the interfaces that people use to access that content can have as strong of an effect on consumer behavior as the content itself.”
What implications might this research also have for young adults with smart phones? Cell phone shoppers, beware.