Buyer Beware: Consumers Purchase More When Shopping On Their iPad

By Jessica Williams

Are you aware that once you have touched an item or imagined yourself touching an item you are more likely to purchase it because you have already developed a sense of ownership? It’s true. Once you come in contact with something in the store, you are more likely to buy it, since you can imagine yourself owning it. When retailers began to figure this out, they implemented the “try it now” scenario in stores to allow consumers to increase their purchasing desires and sense of ownership. It once was so bad in 2003, that the Illinois attorney general went so far as to issue to a warning to retailers who encouraged holiday shoppers to handle merchandise, for that just that reason.

Not only are consumers imagining that they own these products, the “endowment effect” increases the value of these items the moment they take ownership of it. This effect can be so strong that the consumer doesn’t even have to actually own an item for the effect to take hold. The mere suggestion of ownership is enough to get consumers going.

Recently Boston College researchers S. Adam Brasel and James Gips wondered whether the endowment effect might kick when people buy things online as well as making those purchases from a touchscreen iPad tablet.

According to their results, those participants using the iPad as opposed to any other tablet or computer device allowed the endowment effect to thrive. Test participants using the tablet wanted to sell and pay more for their items than those who was using another type of computer. All it took for this effect to take place was the pressing of a finger against a digital image on a fake website in a laboratory; that’s all it took to make people feel like they owned an item, which as a result made those same consumers value the items more.

“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. “We’re just touching it. It’s right there. We already feel like we own it.”

So this Christmas, save some of that extra money and be smart when buying, especially when you are making purchased from your iPad. Look around for the best price possible before making the first purchase you see regardless of how good it looks.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and SouthPromo.com, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.