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Harness the Power of Touch!

Contributor: Kevin Abergel

What is the first primal reaction you observe when you show someone tactile output that has been digitally embellished?

I have been observing these reactions for over a decade and can tell you, with one hundred percent certainty, that the one overarching response I have seen is the subconscious need to TOUCH.

I have tested this theory on my grandmother, my 5-year-old son, my wife, friends, advertising agencies, and many everyday people (as you can see in the video above). Most of them don’t have the slightest idea about our industry.

Sometimes they say “COOL” and reach out and touch the print purposely; sometimes, they don’t say a thing and continue to hold eye contact with me while their thumbs subconsciously “pet” the print.


Either way, if there is one thing I have learned in the past decade, embellished output encourages a physical interaction that cannot be replicated with CMYK alone.

So what does this mean to you,? I am pretty sure you have all already experienced this for yourself, but the question is, have you successfully integrated it into your sales pitch?

Brands and agencies won’t buy print on sex appeal alone, no matter how incredible the finished output.

Justification is king, and to successfully and consistently upsell your embellished output to your customers, you need to be able to demonstrate a return on investment using data.

Let’s take a sample workflow on the purchasing process:

If we are talking about a folding carton or a label, a sample workflow would be the following using the statistics from a study entitled An Initial Study into the Impact of High-Visibility Enhancements on Shelf Presence:


  1. The prospect walks into the store.

  2. The prospect walks down the aisle where my product is placed.

  3. Because my folding carton has embellishment, the prospect identifies my product on the shelf 2x faster than if it only had CMYK.

  4. Because my folding carton has embellishment, the prospect visually engages my product for 21% longer than if it had CMYK.

  5. Because my prospect had identified my product quicker and studied it longer, prospect has a statistically significant higher chance to reach out and TOUCH my product.

  6. If the prospect TOUCHES my product, he has an 42% higher chance of making an impulse purchase and becoming a customer.

  7. The prospect walks into the store.

  8. The prospect walks down the aisle where my product is placed.


As a print buyer, if I spend an additional $X, I need to bring in $Y to make the justification work. You need to prove to them that spending the extra amount of money will help them get better response rates from their direct mailer, better shelf lift for a folding carton, or a higher level of engagement or brand positioning.

Whatever their goal is, you have to sell them on their data-based advantage.

First and foremost, I actively encourage everyone to develop their own statistics regarding engagement lifts resulting from embellished vs. non embellished. Many printers, for example, offer A/B testing as a service with variable designs to see which ones perform better in the field. Some even provide smaller A/B testing free of charge on condition that they get the job if they can prove the the additional return and can use the data for future use.

Develop as many real-life case studies and success stories that you can to arm your salesforce with the right story and the right data to have the best chance of landing the new customer or upselling your existing ones.

If you haven’t done this yet, I strongly encourage you to call some of your good customers, perhaps those with whom you may have a privileged relationship. Ask them if they saw any statistical bumps with the campaign you ran for them that had embellishment and if they could share the data with you.

What if your customers refuse to share the data with you?

Well, in that case, I invite you to leverage over 40 years of psychology research into the “power of touch”.

Here are some excellent links for you to explore what it means to your customers to have a product that can harness the power of touch.

Good luck and don’t forget to keep in TOUCH!

Sappi Paper: The Neuroscience of Touch

Buyer Beware: Touching Something Increases Perceived Ownership

Peck and Shu: The Effect of Mere Touch on Perceived Ownership

Peck and Shu: Psychological ownership and affective reaction: Emotional attachment process variables and the endowment effect

Harvard Business Review: Please Touch the Merchandise

Martin Lindstrom: Why People Need Print Now More Than Ever

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