Tactile Stimuli Create an Experience
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  • slider 07 Jul 2014        By: Author

While browsing a bookstore, I am like a crow with a bottle cap: I walk slowly, pecking around, until a shiny book jacket or spine catches my eye—a glint of surprise. The letters are debossed into the hard cover and filled with gold. I snatch it up, unable to help myself. That’s the one I want.

People are naturally attracted to the item in the room that is the shiniest, the smallest, the greenest, the sharpest, the most bizarre or outlandish . . . anything different. It piques curiosity. We enjoy uniqueness; such items demand attention. Perhaps it is a reflection of our own social desires; we want to be ‘unique.’ We want to be able to call attention to our best side. ‘Be yourself,’ they say, but we all want to think we are the book with the classy jacket.

How does that one item catch our eye? What is it about the book, the business card, the poster, that sets it apart from the others? How can simple human curiosity benefit you in the business world?

It all comes down to special printing effects.

It’s that extra little bit, the frosting on the cake.

Customers no longer simply want to read: they desire an experience. While the education industry is constantly toying with visual and sensory techniques to aid the learning process, modern businesses are using the same techniques to increase sales.

And it works.

Embossing and debossing, foil stamping, and die cutting, for example, are some such techniques. Studies on haptics (the sense of touch) show there is more to understanding material than just the visual aspect. The sense of touch is both learned earlier and retained longer than the other senses.

“Tactile stimuli go much deeper than visual or auditory stimuli,” says Dr. Martin Grunwald, founder of Leipzig University’s haptic research laboratory (qtd. at eppi-online.com). “There is still an enormous development potential in the field of haptic advertising.”

Embossing—raising lettering or graphics using heat and a set of male and female dies—creates a three-dimensional experience on a business card or brochure that is sure to leave a lasting impression for customers.


















Die cutting produces a similar, but not identical, type of response as embossing. It is a combination of visual and tactile appeal, and is used to enhance the image or words on the page by framing them or making them stand out against the background.


















While embossing and die cutting can be left blind and colorless, the addition of other special printing effects, such as glimmering foil stamping, can attract the eye and then prompt the sense of touch. It is a natural perception for many customers to assume higher quality or more elegant appeal in an item that is foil stamped, perhaps due to the “distinguished” look and “old-world charm” according to Locust Street Press.


Like the bottle cap in the grass or my book on the shelf, your advertising can sport an attractive flair in shape, texture, and visual appeal through various forms of special printing effects.

“Whereas visual and acoustic perceptions fade very quickly, tactile qualities create an important reinforcement of the stimulus – and this is where promotional products come into play.” eppi-online.com, European Promotional Products Industry.

“Tactile stimuli go much deeper than visual or auditory stimuli and they are recalled for much longer.” Martin Grunwald, ‘founder and director of the haptic research laboratory at the Paul-Flechsig Institute for Brain Research at the Leipzig University, qtd. In EPPI Magazine online

“There is still an enormous development potential in the field of haptic advertising.” Grunwald.