Haptics: What it means and What Paper Has to Do With It

November 8 2021

There’s more to paper than meets the eye. One of our five senses, touch, plays a fundamental role in how we perceive paper. The science behind touch is known as Haptics, which also happens to be a powerful brand asset.


What is Haptics? 


Haptics is a catchall term that describes anything related to touch. In science, it refers to interfaces (from paper to glass) and the tactile sensations they create. Haptics has transformed how brands approach print media; through the sense of touch, brands have a way to interact with customers like never before.

For example, when a brand produces high-quality print media for customers to keep, they create a long-term connection to them. The right paper builds that connection, reinforcing the relationship through the power of touch.


What paper has to do with it 


In a world full of digitalisation, nothing beats a business card. Or a leaflet. Predictions of print’s death are greatly exaggerated. Print is alive and well, fostering relationships, creating brand loyalty and empowering physical customer experiences.

A great example of the power of Haptics is the statistic that 87% of people are influenced to make an online purchase from direct mail. Direct mail – the thing we call junk – has a profound impact on consumer buying decisions.

What does paper have to do with it? When a person picks up a piece of paper, be it a pamphlet, brochure or business card, they immediately sense an aura of cost, quality and refinement. Thicker paper is a sign of quality in everything from business documents and business cards to leaflets and your favourite takeaway’s menu.


You cannot beat the physical sensation of paper


When we physically hold something, we feel like it’s ours. That’s why when we go shopping, we like to pick things up to ‘get a feel for them’.

This shopping analogy can be extended to brand interactions. Whether through a business card or leaflet, Haptics gives a person a ‘feel’ for the brand. This means brands can finetune perception with the feel of paper. It’s a tried and tested technique to increase sales and one of the reasons why print will always endure in business.


The power of touch in print


We can’t taste paper. We can certainly smell it, but all paper practically smells the same, save for the chemicals and plastics used to coat them. Instead, it’s left to our sense of touch to perceive paper and influence our emotions.

Take business cards, for example. You’re handed some by two packaging firms quoting for a job. The first firm hands you a thin, generic card that’s smooth and uninteresting, while the second firm hands you a thick card that’s textured. The second electrician provides a sense of quality, while the first provides a sense of cheapness.

You are far more likely to choose the second packaging firm!

Make no mistake; paper is powerful! Haptics can forge relationships, win sales and build brand confidence. While websites and apps get all the screen time, paper reserves a special place in the physical world.

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