Simple Strategy for Market Intervention: Introducing Need for Touch Concept in Consumers Behavior

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Business and market requires the understanding towards various characteristics of consumers. Aside from the quality of a product, brief understanding on what consumer think, feel and act are the primary issue when we are going to promote our product. Thus, marketing scientist needs some various tools in order to explore consumer’s needs and create an effective campaign in market. The main question is, how are we going to understand consumers?


Consumer as a Rational Creature
Basically, economy and common marketing science try to understand consumers as rational creature. It means, they think and act in order to seek profit and avoid loss. In short, we can call this perspective as normative model. At the macro level, normative model is the best model to easily understand society. Usually Government use this model as a perspective to understand market dynamics and plan economic intervention. However, are the normative model is the best theory to predict consumers?

Cultural, technological and social development in the market brings various effects for consumers. Numerous innovation in information and technology cause different consumer’s behavior. For example, the development of internet connection, smartphone and digital application. In the past, people usually bring their notebook everywhere they go. Nowadays, consumers are relying most of their primary activities on smartphone.

Maybe from an ordinary point of view, this is a common change in society, but if we look closely, these kinds of phenomenon are not related with advancement of technology. It is the issues of innovation that brings different cultural activities related to consumer. There is a behavioral shift in people—from using a computer as a primary tool for business, to some technology they use in their hand. This phenomenon clearly reminds us that marketer needs more dynamic approach to digest behavioral issues.


Understanding Human Psychology
Psychology as a branch of social sciences tries to provide a different perspective in understanding consumers. Unlike the normative model, psychology believes that human is a social creature. From a psychological point of view, humans will act based on their social framework they have made. Social framework refers to cognitive scheme exist in human’s brain and it’s completely dynamic. Thus, the empirical consequence is different. Social framework will cause different behavior in human. Besides the cognitive aspect, psychology also argues that human has emotions. Various empirical research shows that emotion will make an influence on human behavior. James Russel, a well-known scientist from Boston College explains emotions as two bipolar poles, namely valence and arousal. However, we are not going to talk further about the theory. What I want to say here is, psychology tries to give a different perspective than the normative one. The primary premise from psychology declares that human behavior is a combination between cognitive aspect and the expression of emotions. In the market, behavioral scientists call applied psychology as consumer behavioral science (CB).


Need For Touch (NFT)
I want to introduce the promising theory that exists in CB science. It’s called consumer’s need for touch (NFT). Joann Peck, a well-known researcher from University of Wisconsin-Madison and Terry Childers from University of Kentucky define NFT as an activity in the market setting to obtain information about objects or subjects through touch. Psychology noticed touch as a physiological tool to reach psychological information that will be displayed in their brain. Through touch, consumers are able to create various experience and better decision.

Empirical research has been conducted to explore the effect of NFT in market situation. Past research conducted by Crusco and Wetzel (1984) found that restaurant servers who briefly touch consumers received larger tips than servers who did not touch them. Evidence related to social campaign also comes from Willis and Hamm (1980) who also declared that individuals were also more compliant to sign petition when they are touched. These two cases are real empirical evidence that shows the psychological effect of need for touch. In conclusion, NFT theory can be a source of insight for your market intervention.

Writer: Indo Adinugroho
Editor: Sugiya Oki

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