Daily Dose of iQ: You're More Likely to Buy Something When Shopping On Your iPad

Nov 28, 2013 — Sarah Rosalie

New research from has found that the "endowment effect" (where people increase the value of something when they take ownership of it) can happen via a touch interface – and especially when using an iPad.

"Recently, Boston College researchers S. Adam Brasel and James Gips wondered whether the endowment effect might kick in when people buy things online," wrote FastCompany's Eric Jaffe (Nov. 25). "In the iPad condition, the endowment effect thrived."

I think our shopping impulses might be a little harder to control on a tablet than on a computer.S. Adam Brasel, Boston College researcher

"I think our impulse levels might be a little harder to control when we're tablet shopping than when we're computer shopping," says Brasel.

The iPad offers a more tactile experience than a laptop, so it would make sense that it closer mimics the endowment effect seen with in-store shopping. That being said, I am a little surprised by how dramatic the results of this study were -- I wouldn't have thought that shopping via iPad would nearly double a user's level of attachment to an item versus that seen with a touchpad laptop.

Take-home message for retailers: Let customers touch the product.

Jaffe says that tablet-shopping aside, site designers can learn from the research: test participants were more attached to sweatshirts than NYC walking tours. No kidding. The sweatshirts are a physical, tactile thing.

Since they were measuring the level of attachment to a thing based on how much money the user wanted for it, the NYC walking tour was a weird thing to be thrown in there. Would a person feel any ownership over a walking tour, ever? Doubtful.

People are more likely to shop on a tablet in a cozy environment -- they will be more responsive to items that make them feel good.

Take-home message for retailers: Let customers touch the product. And if not physically, let them “connect” with it via as personal/intimate a device as possible (i.e. a smartphone or a tablet).

Shopping is a sensory, emotion-driven experience -- hence the term 'retail therapy.' Since people are more likely to use a tablet in a cozy environment where they already feel relaxed, it stands to reason that they'd be more responsive to an item that makes them feel good.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce

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