These lush words flowed from my bristling fingertips to a shiny keyboard before reaching their eventual resting place on the subtle grayness of the finely grained newsprint, leaving just your smooth hands to attract the faintest touch of charcoal-like news ink as you read this story. Ready to renew your subscription yet?

Probably not. The rules for using imagery relating to touch in marketing, as set forth by research by Terry Childers, the dean's chair of marketing at Iowa State University's College of Business, have just been broken.

Childers has been studying haptic processing, or how consumers react to objects through touch, and its relation to marketing, and will soon be taking his research to a whole new brain level.

Thanks to a new laboratory coming next fall to the basement of the Gerdin Business Building at Iowa State, Childers will be able to conduct neuromarketing research by hooking study participants up to a machine that analyzes brain waves. His hope is to further understand and corroborate with his existing research the roles that touch plays in consumer decisions.

What Childers has already found, along with lead author Shannon Rinaldo of the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, is that haptic processing can make a big impact on the effectiveness of advertising.

In the study, the two researchers created advertisements that used very vivid words to try to create a rich image of, for example, a sweater.

Their paper, which was presented at the end of February at the Society for Consumer Psychology 2010 Winter Conference, found that when study participants were evaluating products where the touch or feel were critical to the decision of whether to make a purchase, they were more likely to recall texture imagery statements from a prior ad.

Hence the problem with trying to sell you a newspaper based on its haptic qualities. Whether you buy a newspaper probably has little to do with how it feels, as opposed to, say, a sweater.

This means advertisers could potentially achieve better results when marketing a texture-related product by using heavy doses of texture imagery.

"If (advertisers) engage in deeper, more concrete, vivid types of descriptions, then they can encourage someone to actually voluntarily elicit those kinds of images that allow them to actually feel what the product might be like if they were actually to wear the piece of clothing or feel how that phone might feel in their hand," Childers said.

He said the more an advertisement or product description is able to use vivid descriptions, the stronger the network of associations that are created in a prospective customer's memory.

"It's just those more colorful concrete words that make the experience much more meaningful in terms of the image," he said. "So it's not just a sterile type of image; it is one that you can really attach some underlying associations to as well as maybe some emotional significance too."

But beware, marketers. Using haptic imagery also can interfere with a consumer's buying decision. Imagery is basically a re-creation of a previous experience, which can be very similar to the actual experience. These two separate things, however, draw on the same area of the brain

"So if you were asking somebody to evaluate a product by using their hands, and at the same time asking them to image a product that they had seen in another store, then the haptic imagery and the product evaluation using touch are both competing for the same resources in the brain, so they interfere with each other," Childers said.

But, he said, if the tasks are spread out and not done simultaneously, and people are asked to image a product they saw in a store last week, then after that evaluate a product in their hands, a facilitation effect takes place.

"The imagery helps facilitate access to the information in memory to allow you to make a better evaluation of the current product that you are looking at," Childers said.

"If you are trying to emphasize to many of the haptic qualities of a product in a TV ad and at the same time trying to encourage them to think of their prior experiences, you will get that kind of competition, and it is likely they won't learn as much about the ad as they would otherwise."

Online advertisers don't have to worry as much about this, he said. A rich description won't cause interference, because there is no product to actually touch and evaluate. In fact, marketers could use the idea of haptic interference to their advantage for in-store merchants.

"If you are the company that has the customer in the store, and you encourage them to read through the packaging description, and it has all these colorful descriptions of the product, then that might interfere with the ability of somebody to be able to recall the product at a competitor's store," he said.

When Childers gets his new lab, he will utilize some of his old experiment setups and have participants evaluate products like a sweater, telephone or tennis racket, but because he will be able to monitor brain waves, he hopes to see if there are differences in the speed at which the brain operates relating to touch. That might help explain why some people are more interested in tactile qualities versus smell or sight.

Until then, Childers offers some free haptic advice.

"You want to think about the message that you are trying to convey, and how that message overlaps with different sensory qualities of the product," he said.

"And think about then how you can convey that message in a way that you can build on the benefits of each type of sensory experience and combine those in a way to increase the impact of your message."

And hey, if the feel of newsprint between your fingertips is truly of importance to you, go ahead, give us a call and get that subscription renewed.