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Abstract

Tactile input plays a key role in consumers' evaluation of products' substance properties. Utilization of haptic interfaces and force feedback devices that enable consumers to feel and manipulate three-dimensional (3D) virtual products is a promising but under-explored area in marketing and consumer behavior research. This study investigated 3D virtual touch created by Novint Falcon haptic interfaces and its impacts on consumer behavior in the interactive marketing of automobiles. It was hypothesized that consumers' instrumental Need for Touch (NFT) plays a significant moderating role in haptic interfaces. Results from a 2 (nature of tactile stimuli: haptic input with force feedback versus no force feedback) × 2 (haptic orientation: high NFT versus low NFT) full factorial between-subjects experiment indicated that consumers high in instrumental NFT evaluate products more positively, enjoy the test-driving experience more, and show stronger brand–self connection when there are force feedback haptic stimuli as opposed to when there is no force feedback. Theoretical and managerial implications of the study are discussed. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.