Back You are reading: The Power of Touch: Exploring Haptic Technology in Modern Branding

The Power of Touch: Exploring Haptic Technology in Modern Branding

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Key Insights
  • Touch provides essential feedback and plays a crucial role in non-verbal communication.
  • Haptic technology in ads, like vibrating phones, boosts engagement and conversions.
  • Haptic feedback in devices enhances user experience and promotes healthier habits.
  • Haptic alerts improve task performance and enhance digital communication.
  • Future haptic tech can bridge physical and digital interactions
We rely on touch, or “haptic” information, continuously in ways we might not always recognize. Nerves in our skin, joints, muscles, and organs provide essential feedback about our body’s positioning, the pressure we’re applying, or even the weather.


Touch also plays a crucial role in emotional exchanges, providing non verbal communication at a primal level – in fact touch is the very first sense we form as humans, starting in the first trimester of pregnancy.


In the digital space, haptic technology, which simulates the sense of touch through vibration, is finding innovative uses beyond personal communication. For example, in a Stoli vodka ad campaign, users’ phones vibrated to simulate the sensation of shaking a cocktail. Similarly, Volkswagen’s South Africa campaign used phone vibrations to mimic the revving of a car engine when users interacted with the ad – in both of these campaigns engagement and conversions were substantially increased by the introduction of touch, demonstrating the creative application of haptic feedback in mobile advertising.


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Enhancing User Experience


Product designers are leveraging this technology to enhance user experience.


The Lumo Sensor, for example, vibrates to prompt users to correct their posture. The HAPIfork buzzes to notify users if they’re eating too quickly, promoting healthier eating habits. Wearables like fitness bands use vibrations to alert users about fitness goals or incoming calls, integrating seamlessly into daily life. The vibration from Apple Pay notifies a user of successful payment without the need to view the transaction directly.


The Psychological Impact 


Studies in social psychology and computer science reveal that haptic feedback can enhance consumer responses to digital communications.


Research by Rhonda Hadi found that haptic alerts can improve performance on tasks related to the messages received, likely due to the increased sense of social presence they provide. This helps to counteract the impersonal nature of digital interactions.


This sensory feedback promotes healthier behaviors, increases convenience, and enhances user engagement. It creates immersive experiences in digital communications, boosts accessibility for those with sensory disabilities, and makes digital interactions more personal, reducing feelings of isolation.


Touch and Consumer Behavior


The influence of touch extends deeply into consumer behavior. Research shows that the physical sensation of products, such as towels or carpets, can significantly influence purchase decisions.


Furthermore, studies by Joann Peck and Jennifer Wiggins illustrate that incorporating tactile elements into marketing can vary in effectiveness depending on an individual’s innate desire for touch, known as autotelic Need for Touch (NFT). For those who enjoy tactile interactions (high autotelic NFT), even a simple touch element in advertising can evoke a strong emotional response, enhancing the persuasiveness of the message.


Interpersonal touch in everyday interactions, such as a handshake or a pat on the back, carries profound implications. These subtle gestures convey intimacy and trust more powerfully than words. For example, studies have shown that waitresses who subtly touch their clients on the arm tend to receive larger tips. This ‘Midas touch’ effect demonstrates how even minimal incidental contact can lead to more favorable service evaluations and increased compliance with requests.



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The Future of Haptic Technology in Branding


The future potential for advanced haptic technologies to allow touch within digital e-commerce spaces could bridge the current gap between physical and digital retail spaces.


By enhancing the user experience and creating deeper emotional connections, this technology promises to make our digital interactions more human and memorable – enhancing perceived brand image. With advancements, we could see a future where haptic technology allows for a much more tactile and personalized digital experience, potentially revolutionizing how we interact with brands online.



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Ethical Considerations 


The use of new technology offers exciting possibilities, it also raises important ethical questions. Our goal at Juicebox is to enhance human connection, not replace it.


The future of digital interaction lies in integrating and overlaying digital experiences into our physical world. We need to strike the right balance. Rather than retreating into VR rooms with wearables and goggles, we should focus on enhancing our real-world experiences. Technology should allow you, for example, to share a moment with a friend across the globe without intrusive devices, using augmented experiences to bring us closer together.


Haptic technology, when applied purposefully, can bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, making interactions more intuitive and emotionally resonant. The goal should always be to ensure that every touchpoint adds real value, fostering authentic and meaningful connections between brands and consumers.