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The Power of Touch in Advertising!


It began in 1974, when I first proudly held the shiny-black leather bag of a medical representative.

A question that piqued me then – how can I make Diovol the ‘Darling Brand’ of doctors?  I tried all the tricks in my bag, but it was always Digene which was their Darling Brand and Diovol the bridesmaid.

Diovol was my identity: it was also the identity of Carter-Wallace (then).

And, I wasn’t looking at achieving 100% of my target – I always achieved that – I was looking at something more beyond that. And that was making Diovol the ‘Darling Brand’ so that it becomes Number 1 Brand in my territory. 

This morning when I read a research article “The Effect of Mere Touch on Perceived Ownership” by Suzanne B. Shu (UCLA), I grumbled “I wish this was published in those days.”

“This research finds that merely touching an object results in an increase in perceived ownership of that object. For non-owners, or buyers, (for pharma, non-prescribers) perceived ownership can be increased with either mere touch or with imagery encouraging touch.”

How I wish I could have made my doctors touch a bottle of Diovol Suspension.

Or I could have made them ‘feel’ the rich creamy texture of Diovol Suspension.

The touch or the feel experience would have made doctors take ownership of Diovol Suspension and could have made it their ‘Darling Brand’.

The Effect of Mere Touch on Perceived Ownership

Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming

Posted: 20 Feb 2009

Joann Peck – University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin School of Business

Suzanne B. Shu – University of California, Los Angeles – Anderson School of Management


This research finds that merely touching an object results in an increase in perceived ownership of that object.

For non-owners, or buyers, perceived ownership can be increased with either mere touch or with imagery encouraging touch.

Perceived ownership can also be increased through touch for legal owners, or sellers of an object. We also explore valuation of an object and conclude that it is jointly influenced by both perceived ownership and by the valence of the touch experience. We discuss the implications of this research for on-line and traditional retailers as well as for touch research and endowment effect research.

One of the most effective ads showing the power of touch was by Gillette – from the insights they gained.


Newborn babies’ only means of communication during their first year of life is through the language of touch. Academic research by Harvard University and The Boston Children’s Hospital have proven that “skin to skin” communication releases “Love Hormones” right after birth and helps babies’ development as they build their trust in the environment and in their parents.


Gillette published a double page ad in Israel’s leading Male magazine, containing “The Dad Test” – a smart and simple tool that gives new dads a physical demonstration of the way their beards feel on their newborns’ skin. The different levels of roughness were illustrated by real sand paper. Gillette also bought the adjacent page knowing that the sandpaper will definitely leave scratch marks on it. The copy on the next page read – “The paper can absorb anything… and your baby’s skin?”

Final Thought

Branding has always been about establishing emotional ties between your brand and the customer. As in any relationship, emotions are based on the information you gather from your senses. Touch stimulates, enhances and bonds with your customer.                                                                                               


Vivek Hattangadi
Chief Mentor at ‘The Enablers’
PharmaState Academy
PharmaState Academy is a Learning & Development Portal which is focused on Pharmaceutical Industry training needs.

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